New Zealand and South Africa meet in the 2nd Test from Thursday 16 March at the Basin Reserve in Wellington looking to take the lead after rain-affected draw in the opening test.
It was a testing encounter in the first match at Dunedin between New Zealand and South Africa before rain played spoilsport. The teams now move on to the Basin Reserve at Wellington for the second Test.
With the pitch known to offer the most pace and bounce of all grounds in New Zealand, the encounter promises to be fascinating.
New Zealand head into the Test with some glaring fitness issues to address. Ross Taylor who was injured midway through the Dunedin Test will be missing this match. He would be replaced by Neil Broom, a veteran from the domestic circuit.
Another forceful change that may impact their chances is the hip injury to Trent Boult. Matt Henry joined the team, not as a replacement but as a reinforcement that was pre-planned.
Another worry for Kane Williamson is the absence of runs from his openers. Jeet Raval is showing solidity but is unable to kick-on beyond fifties while Tom Latham continues to scratch for form.
South Africa were surprised by the spin on offer at Dunedin and even thought that the hosts may not go for a bouncy pitch that will play into the hands of the Proteas. But Wellington is a different proposition and this could be their best chance on this trip.
The visitors called in Dane Piedt but he may not get a look-in for this match. In all likelihood, the Proteas may stick to the same team unless they choose to go for an all-seam attack.
The form of Temba Bavuma is a worry although he did score a fifty at Dunedin. The return of Morne Morkel couldn’t have been better with the lanky pacer finding discomforting pace and bounce at Dunedin. This pitch at Wellington could be to his liking.
New Zealand may not have an unbeaten record at the Basin Reserve but have a fairly decent past to boast. In the 59 Tests played here, the Black Caps have won 17 while losing 19 with 23 matches ending in draws. With rain still a chance this week, do not rule out another dampener.
South Africa have happy memories of the ground having played six times here and winning four of them.
Broom should replace Taylor while Tim Southee should replace the injured Boult. Having two spinners on this track is a liability and Jeetan Patel could consider himself unlucky to miss out with Henry a distinct possibility.
South Africa should retain the same XI unless they decide to go all-out with pace attack; which looks highly unlikely.
The Kiwis are backed to win the match at odds of $3.50 (bet365
) while the visitors are offered odds of $1.95. Considering the pitch on offer, backing the Proteas could be a worthy punt.
Morkel at Dunedin looked as if he wasn’t far away from his best. His pace and bounce combined with hunger to make up for the lost time makes him an ideal pick to top the charts for South Africa. Back him at odds of $4.50 (bet365
). Same goes for Southee at odds of $3.50 (bet365
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