New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Preview: Proteas favorites as Kiwis look to settle scores

New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Preview: Proteas favorites as Kiwis look to settle scores

Tim Southee of New Zealand
Tim Southee of New Zealand is congratulated by teammates. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

After a closely contested ODI series, the action now moves to some serious cricket action in the longest format of the game. New Zealand are ready to take on the visiting South Africa side that has been dominating them on the tour thus far. The proteas have managed to win the limited overs series and would like to extend their dominion in the Tests as well. The history of Test cricket definitely does not speak volumes in the favor of the hosts. New Zealand have played the catch-up game against South Africa when it has come to the longest format.

In one of their recent encounters back in 2013, the Kiwis were bundled out in the first session of the day for a low-key score. They have been found wanting with the Proteas bowling firing all cylinders. Having said that, their recent form in Test cricket at home has been impressive and must be taken into consideration. The Kiwis had whitewashed Pakistan 2-0 in late 2016 and then repeated the same against the touring Bangladesh side as well. Prior to that, they were at the receiving end of a whitewash when they were beaten 0-3 by India in India.

Talking about the form of the Proteas, they are in red hot mood at the moment. It is safe to say that South Africa have been the best touring side over the last couple of years. They defeated Australia in Australia by 2-1 margin last year and then completed a clean sweep over Sri Lanka at home. The numbers, the records and the recent past makes the visitors favourites for the match.

Team News:

New Zealand

The Test match set up of the hosts will see a few new faces being drafted in. Opener Jeet Raval was impressive in the series against Pakistan and will be taking charge at the top order. Tom Latham, the other opener, has been struggling with form and will be under the radar for the match. Both openers will be facing stiff ask against the quality bowling line up of the Proteas. The other selection conundrum that the team might face is about the all-rounder slot.

After stuffing in the openers, the middle-order heavyweights, the spinner and quicks, they are left with one slot for the all-rounder. It will be a big call to pick either Colin de Grandhomme of James Neesham. The recent form of Colin de Grandhomme, who had scalped 6 wickets on Test debut, might take things in his favor for the opening Test. The pace department will have three pacers on the seaming track.

Trent Boult and Tim Southee will be joined by Neil Wagner. Skipper Kane Williamson has kept his cards undisclosed ahead of the Test match. He refused to share any plans for the match and said it will all depend on how the pitch fares up on the match day. On the eve of the Test match, he quoted, “I don’t get ahead of myself with silly ideas like that. We want to have a look at the surface, it can change. We don’t want to delve into that before we have any outrageous thoughts.”

South Africa

South African side will be the one under consideration. The combination that they will go forward with depends on whether they go in with an additional spinner. Captaincy duties have changed as Faf du Plessis gets in the role taking the baton from AB de Villiers, who led the side in ODIs. Du Plessis had hinted that the track is likely to be a slower one and the spinner might get in the bigger picture.

He quoted, “With slower conditions here, our strongest team is the balance of three seamers and a spinner. If the wicket is slow, your spinner does become important.” Keshav Maharaj is most likely to be the man for the Proteas on the day.

Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar look set at the opening slot. Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada will be the frontline pacers. Morne Morkel is all set to make a comeback to the side after almost a year. The team will definitely miss the services of Kyle Abbott who will no longer serve the country in the next few years owing to a Kolpak deal. In the recent times, he had been an integral part of the side.

Probable XI

New Zealand

Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

South Africa

Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (c), JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada.

Match Facts:

Venue: University Oval, Dunedin

Time: 0330 (IST) 2200 (GMT) 1000 (local)

Pitch Verdict: Seaming conditions

Weather: Clear skies on first three days, showers expect on the last two.

StAttack:

  • The Kiwis have won only 4 Tests against South Africa and that includes only one home Test win. They have the worst win-loss ratio for New Zealand against a particular opposition. It is 0.166 v South Africa in Tests.
  • The Kiwis have not lost any Test match played at the venue. The venue has hosted 7 Tests since it hosted the first match in 2008.
  • In the last 22 matches played in New Zealand, the captains winning the toss have opted to bowl. The last time a captain opting to bat first in the country in a Test match was Daniel Vettori against Pakistan in 2011.
  • Kane Williamson averages 55 with the bat as the Kiwi skipper. This is the best average for any Kiwi batsman as a skipper till date.