Match Facts

March 16-20 2017
Start time 11.00am local (2200GMT)

Tim Southee will help cover for Trent Boult’s absence, but Ross Taylor’s presence will be harder to replace © Getty Images

The Big Picture

As you were, then. Sort of. Four days of cut-and-thrust set things up for a fascinating fifth day in Dunedin. Then it rained. It’s done that quite a lot in New Zealand this summer. The good news, however, is after a wet and windy build-up the forecast for the five days in Wellington (and you always need to say this with fingers crossed) is shaping up nicely.

If the first Test had gone the distance, South Africa had their noses in front going into the final day with New Zealand a batsman and a bowler down. But they were never allowed to dominate, even when their batsmen were building partnerships, due to a combination of a sluggish pitch and accurate bowling.

However tight the opening skirmishes on paper South Africa now have a significant advantage with New Zealand having lost both Ross Taylor and Trent Boult. While Tim Southee can help sustain the bowling department, this match will be a test of New Zealand’s batting depth. A No. 4-5 axis of Neil Broom and Henry Nicholls looks flimsy and leaves even more on the shoulders of Kane Williamson who is now ranked No. 2 after his superb 130 in Dunedin.

Half of South Africa’s attack also bring with them good memories – and valuable knowledge of the Basin’s characteristics – from the 2012 Test. Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel claimed six-wicket hauls – Morkel’s 6 for 23 remain his career-best – and both will have their sights set on that inexperienced New Zealand top order. That Test five years ago was a draw, though, with Williamson standing in South Africa’s way. It is likely he will need to do the same again.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand DWWWW
South Africa DWWWL

In the spotlight

At least to replace Boult, New Zealand have Southee. For the batting it’s a little different. Neil Broom has some big boots to fill, boots that have scored 6030 Test runs. New Zealand have backed his domestic experience – 136 matches of it spread across 14 years – and Broom’s debut will cap a remarkable summer which included quitting his deal with Derbyshire after a surprise recall. His scores in the one-day series of 2,2 and 0 were noted by Faf du Plessis – “we were quite successful in getting rid of him so hopefully that will continue,” he said in Dunedin – but at least Broom has seen enough ups and downs to keep his emotions level. He’ll need that composure this week.

Quinton de Kock can expect to face Jeetan Patel as soon as he walks in (presuming New Zealand now don’t leave him out having brought him back) probably regardless of the state of the innings or age of the ball. Four times in four innings Patel has nabbed him and this presents a little challenge for de Kock who has been South Africa’s trump card at No. 7 in recent times, either staging a counter-attacking recovery or hurting tired attacks. This duel has become an enjoyable little subplot of the tour, and perhaps an unexpected one.

Team news

New Zealand did not confirm their final XI with a decision to be made over the balance of the attack. It would be a surprise if they did not return to a single frontline spinner and that leaves Mitchell Santner vulnerable. Colin de Grandhomme’s batting could mean he edges out Matt Henry.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Tom Latham, 2 Jeet Raval, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Neil Broom, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 James Neesham, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Colin de Grandhomme, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Jeetan Patel

South Africa are likely to remain unchanged, although du Plessis did leave the door ajar for an extra pace bowler at the expense of a batsman. That would mean dropping JP Duminy, probably for Wayne Parnell.

South Africa (probable) 1 Stephen Cook, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Temba Bavuma, 7 Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Kagiso Rabada

Pitch and conditions

Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, has admitted he doesn’t want green seamers in this series. The strip was pretty green on Wednesday, but that can often be misleading at this ground. However, what the 22 yards does end up like is a little uncertain. Hagen Faith, the groundsman, has had a fraught build-up with 70mm of rain falling in Wellington the days before Test. The forecast for the five days is promising with currently just a chance of showers on Saturday.

Stats and trivia

  • Kane Williamson needs 63 runs for 5000 and also one century to equal Martin Crowe’s record of 17
  • South Africa have won four of their six Tests at the Basin Reserve – two coming since readmission although 2012 was a draw
  • The previous Test on this ground, against Bangladesh, saw New Zealand overhaul the biggest first-innings score to secure victory – 595 for 8 dec.

Quotes

“With the weather they have had over the last week, it hasn’t been ideal. There might be a little bit to offer with the surface early on but it tends to be a good cricket wicket.”
Tim Southee does not expect too much different from the Basin pitch

“It sounds good. If you have that confidence where you’ve come to a ground in a different country and you’ve done well it sounds very good, but we know it doesn’t mean anything. We’ve got to see what the wicket produces because it has been a bit different this time around.”
Faf du Plessis was not getting carried away by South Africa’s record at the ground

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

©
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.



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Publish date : 15 March 2017 | 3:06 am

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