The first Test between New Zealand and South Africa ended up being a very close affair going down to the very last day. However, the visitors can surely take pride in the fact that they dominated the proceedings for the most part of the drawn Test. The demons of the Kiwi side against the Proteas in the longest format could well be seen in the match.
After a good long break for 5 odd days, both teams are now ready for the second Test at Wellington. It is not an everyday story to know that an overseas venue has been a lucky hunting ground for a visiting side. The venue at Wellington has been a lucky ground for the South Africans in the past. They will hope to replicate their past performances in the match.
Meanwhile, the hosts have been plagued with injuries. Their most experienced batsman, Ross Taylor, has been ruled out of the fixture. And so has been their most impactful bowler, Trent Boult. The Kiwis will definitely have selection conundrums for the match and subsequently, have an uphill task to match the strong Proteas bowling on the track.
The last time Proteas played at the venue, bowlers Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander had scalped 6 wicket hauls. Albeit, the point to be noted is that they failed to get their team register a win as one man stood between them and the Test win. It was Kane Williamson. Will the Kiwi skipper do so yet again? The match promises to be an exciting contest.
New Zealand have a lot to worry about with two of their main players – Trent Boult and Ross Taylor – being ruled out of the Test match. This would mean that they will have to look out for replacements for both the stalwarts. The replacement for Boult will not be a concern, though. Tim Southee, who was a surprise exclusion in the first Test, will come in place of Boult in the second game.
The big boots of Ross Taylor needs to be filled. Either Neil Broom or Henry Nicholls will have to step up to the occasion if the Kiwis hope for a turnaround. Skipper Kane Williamson has been in a great form and he will be the key player in the lineup. He has escalated to number 2 spot in ICC Test rankings after his century at Dunedin in the first Test. The Kiwis will also hope that their frontline bowlers, especially Southee, gets through the South African top order.
Southee, in a conference, noted that the track at Wellington is likely to be the same as the one that was used in Dunedin. He gave a subtle hint that the bowlers need to step up in the match. “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,” were the words of Southee.
South Africa will find themselves in a comfortable position in the match. They got almost all their boxes ticked correctly in the first match. Their bowlers are firing in the right lines and the batsmen are scoring well too. Dean Elgar, with a fifty and a century in the first Test, will look to continue his good run. The middle-order looks settled too.
However, the Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis indicated that they might play an additional bowler in the Test considering the track at the venue. This could possibly mean that JP Duminy might miss out on the match. Wayne Parnell, who has been impressive in the recent past, is most likely to be fielded in his place. Among the other bowlers, Kagiso Rabada looks in supreme touch as ever. Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have good memories of the track and will hope for a repeat show in the game. Du Plessis remarked that the experience of having done well at the venue gives them a comfortable entry in the match.
“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,” the South African skipper quoted.
Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (C), Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls, James Neesham, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Neil Wagner, Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee.
Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (C), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada.
1. Kane Williamson has 4937 runs in Test cricket. 63 more runs will take him to 5000 Test runs.
2. South Africa have won 4 out of their 6 Tests at the venue. The most recent encounter at the venue between the two teams was in 2012 that ended in a draw.
3. The last time a Test was played at the venue, New Zealand had won the Test despite conceding 595 in the first innings (against Bangladesh).
4. The Kiwis have won only 4 Tests against South Africa in the history of the game. This includes only one home Test win.