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Black Caps, Proteas Need Ambition to Break Series Deadlock

New Zealand and South Africa head to the Basin Reserve in Wellington with the opportunity to take hold of the test series. With a win here in game two, they’ll make it impossible for their opponents to win and have an excellent chance of taking out the series given the torrential wet weather that’s blanketing most of New Zealand and could threaten game three. They must be positive though to advance a result.

The Series So Far

Dunedin’s series opener was ruined by final day rain just as things were getting tense. With a small lead of just 140 and 4 wickets in hand, the South Africans would’ve needed some decent rearguard action to set New Zealand a challenging total. It wasn’t to be, and a draw was betting of a game that neither team dominated or took by the scruff of the neck – the Black Caps had their chances but grassed two many catches and used DRS poorly.

New Zealand looked to have a better batting unit (Dean Elgar aside), whereas, South Africa looked more threatening with the ball, which could point to another close one in Wellington.

The Teams

New Zealand (probable):

1 Tom Latham, 2 Jeet Raval, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Neil Broom, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 BJ Watling (wk), 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 James Neesham, 9 Neil Wagner, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult

I don’t think Jeetan Patel will play again this series, even though he’s guaranteed to get at least two wickets in the match (de Kock x2). Instead, Santner will be preferred and Tim Southee will return to strengthen the pace bowling stocks. Neil Broom will replace the injured Ross Taylor, and Trent Boult is still under an injury cloud.

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

Unlikely to make changes, as spinner Dane Piedt is still awaiting a visa. He’s a chance to play in Hamilton where the pitch is expected to offer help to the slow bowlers.

The Key Players

New Zealand

Without his other senior contributor Ross Taylor, and not being able to rely on the woefully out of form, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson will be required to do exactly what he did in game one. The captain scored a quality century in trying conditions to lead the way. He’s a great chance of repeating given his record in Wellington – at the Basin, he averages 79.9 with 3 hundreds and 3 fifties.

South Africa

Dean Elgar’s monumental effort in Dunedin is reflective of his renewed confidence at test level. After a pair on debut (at the hands of Mitchell Johnson), Elgar has come of age of late and now has more test centuries than half centuries – a fantastic effort from an opener. His double of 140 and 89 was exactly what his side required when they found themselves in trouble early in both innings in Dunedin.

The Match Odds*

New Zealand – $3.40

Draw – $4.25

South Africa – $1.90

*All odds from Bet365.

The Prediction

The weather forecast is again looking okay despite some horror weather in NZ of late. That said, the flat surface may mean another draw is on the cards. In order for it to happen Elgar needs to bat forever again and the Black Caps will need to show some mettle without Ross Taylor.

The Best Bets

Henry Nicholls has had some success against South Africa and looks at crazy money for a specialist batsman to top score. He’s worth the $8 being offered at Bet365.

Philander will enjoy the conditions at the Basin Reserve and performed well last time he played there. Strongly consider him to be top bowl at $3.40.

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