New Zealand v South Africa, 2nd Test, Hamilton

Teams start over after tough first Test

The Preview by Firdose Moonda in Hamilton

March 14, 2012

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

Match facts



Brendon McCullum knocks one to the off side, New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 4th day, March 10, 2012
Brendon McCullum is key for New Zealand at No.3 © AFP
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March 15-19, Hamilton
Start time 1030 (2130 GMT)

Big Picture


The tone for the series was set in Dunedin with a competitive match being cut short by rain. The result, or lack thereof, has left the series on a fairly even keel heading into the second round. Both sides insist they felt in with a chance of winning the first one. Although the experts believed South Africa were more likely to take eight wickets on the final day than New Zealand were to score 264 runs, both teams believe they had momentum on their side.

In sport, particularly a Test series, it's a clich├ęd but important thing to have the pendulum swinging your way because it dictates the mood of the camp. In this case, the two teams each think the advantage lies with them, which should provide a hard-fought Test.

For South Africa, an early downer will be that the chance to claim the No.1 ranking and the $175,000 payout that will be made on April 1 is gone. But the opportunity to win a series away from home remains. As the best travellers in the game over the last five years, building on that trend will be vital.

They admitted to a concern with starting slowly, with Alviro Petersen saying the first day of the Dunedin Test "wasn't ideal for us". Now that they have found their stride, they want to keep it there. South Africa's big guns fired with the bat in the second innings, the bowlers did it in the first innings but the collective effort did not come together as quickly as they would have liked. Ideally, South Africa would want to score the same amount of runs in the second innings as they did in the first and give themselves enough time to bowl their opposition out twice, which Graeme Smith believes they are capable of doing.

New Zealand have more general worries. The coach John Wright spoke about the importance of taking 20 wickets and Ross Taylor has emphasised that the top five need to score the bulk of the runs because of the balance of the side. They seem to have accepted that the gulf between them and South Africa is reflected in more than just rankings - with the former at No.2 and the latter No.8 - but their determination to close that is evident.

Form guide

(Most recent first)
New Zealand DWWLW

South Africa DWLWL

In the spotlight


Having moved down the order, Brendon McCullum has taken on the key role of No.3 and appears to be enjoying it. He has shown his temperament can be suited to anchoring or being the aggressor. Having just come off a prolonged stint as captain during Ross Taylor's injury lay-off, McCullum has established his place as the senior statesman of the side, both on and off the field. If New Zealand are do to well, McCullum has to play a leading role.

Dale Steyn's lean patches are usually followed by destructive bursts. With more swing in the air than Dunedin and a pitch that looks like it could have something in it for the seamers, Steyn will have the conditions on his side in Hamilton. What will be interesting to see is whether he will have the mindset as well. Steyn bowled some unplayable spells in Dunedin, which remarkably didn't find the edge as often as he would have liked, a sign that his next blistering performance is not far away.

Team news


Rob Nicol will keep his place as one of the opening batsmen after a tough debut. McCullum will bat at No.3, where John Wright said he had been "pretty comfortable". The only question is who will replace Tim Southee and the choice seems to be between Brent Arnel and Mark Gillespie, who has not played Test cricket for New Zealand since 2008. Andrew Ellis, who could also bolster the batting, has the outside chance. Tarun Nethula, the legspinner who was also brought into the squad for this game, is unlikely to play.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Rob Nicol, 3 Brendon McCullum, 4 Ross Taylor (capt), 5 Kane Williamson, 6 Daniel Vettori, 7 Kruger van Wyk (wk), 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Mark Gillespie/Brent Arnel, 11 Chris Martin.

Injury may keep AB de Villiers out of the side after he sprained his ankle during practice on Tuesday, though he tweeted that he 'should be ready'. JP Duminy and Robin Peterson both batted in the nets on Wednesday and should de Villiers be unfit, Duminy is likely to make a return in the longest format. The rest of the line-up should be unchanged with Imran Tahir set to play, in anticipation of turn later on in the match, and Marchant de Lange to miss out, despite the green strip.

South Africa (probable) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers/JP Duminy, 6 Jacques Rudolph, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir.

Pitch and conditions


A green pitch greeted the eye two days before the match and it remained that way on the eve of the game. The grass will likely be cut the morning of the Test, before the sun has had the opportunity to bake the surface too much. Talk is that it will be a traditional strip, with something in it for the bowlers on the first morning and friendly for the batsmen for the rest of the match. Heavy rain is forecast for the fifth day, Monday, which could mirror the first Test and the teams will want to secure a result before the heavens open.

Stats and trivia


  • New Zealand have their best winning record in the second Test of a series. They have won the second Test 22% of the time, compared with 19% for the first Test
  • This ground has recent fond memories for South Africa - Richard Levi scored his record-breaking T20 century here last month

Quotes


"I haven't any messages from England saying thank you for stopping them. If we keep fighting like we did in Dunedin we'll be competitive."
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor said his team have not over-analysed preventing South Africa from becoming the top-ranked Test team

"Maybe the toss will play a more crucial role. The groundsman seems to think that it will brown quite quickly. Maybe it will have good carry throughout the Test, which would be good."
Graeme Smith would not be drawn into whether he would bowl first in Hamilton, but expects the toss to have a bigger say than in Dunedin

Edited by Brydon Coverdale

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Fydd on (March 14, 2012, 21:16 GMT)

Don't presume it will rain on the fifth day. NZ metservice says it will be fine, and the weatherchannel says 40% chance of rain. So it seems there is a good chance that it will go the distance.

Posted by MarkM33 on (March 14, 2012, 21:05 GMT)

A lot of dumb comments on here - reality is that NZ are ranked 8 for a reason compared to SAF at 2. SAF have better batsmen and bowlers than NZ and are clearly the better team on paper.

But that's the brilliant thing about cricket - give the lesser team a green wicket to bowl on and, as long as they put up a good fight for the whole match and don't have a session or 2 or uselessness, then even they can beat the more fancied side.

The key to the winning or losing of the match will be one of two things: 1) Whether NZ's bowlers can dislodge the SAF batsmen twice; OR 2) Whether NZ's batsmen can avoid a typical collapse.

I'm looking forward to keepingtrack of the game on Cricinfo.

GO NZ!!!

Posted by   on (March 14, 2012, 20:25 GMT)

@Ian Levinson. It was the last time SA toured NZ. NZ batted you guys out of the game in the first innings and despite a superb Rudolph century in the 2nd innings you could only set us a target of 51. Do you remember that game? Didn't think so.

Posted by rakesh_1907 on (March 14, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

nzl hav momentum 4m da 1st test,n dey hav a gud chance of surprising SA..

Posted by St00rt on (March 14, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

"Ideally, South Africa would want to score the same amount of runs in the second innings as they did in the first" Surely you mean score the same amount in the first as they did in the second? Or am I missing your point here?

Posted by 99problemsbutapitchaintone on (March 14, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

You can leave out your spinner on these batsmen friendly wickets because you need them to do the hard work and tie down an end. Steyn has been bowling well and I hope he overcomes this injury. SA have been lacking a killer edge and haven't put together a complete performance in a while. They need to get ruthless.

Posted by   on (March 14, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Correctly observed, Tsotsobe is the #1 ODI bowler. And Steyn in tests. Apples and pears. It is for Steyn to decide if he is fit enough (knee & ugly toe) to play. I have a feeling though, that if he does play in this one, he might not be fit for #3. I hope he is. Would like to see de Lange though. Yes, you have to have a spinner in the side, but what if there's a guy that can take 7 wickets in a match, sitting on the bench. Can Tahir? I think we should blast them away with 5 seamers. Nothing beats pace, except for Warne and Murali. Hope AB will be okay, and that there will be 5 days...Can't wait.

Posted by Marktc on (March 14, 2012, 10:19 GMT)

Alankrith Shankar S-Are you serious- leave Dale Steyn out?? In the first test, Dale beat the bat many times and it was only bad luck that he did not get more wickets. In the second innings, all the bowlers found going tough, and with a day missing, how can one judge. De Lange has performed very well, but you must realize, he is very green. New Zealand are a side that will make the most use of this, and target him. He is too young to be broken in against crafty opposition. Steyn will come good. Would be nice to have a sixth day spare. This would ensure results rained out tests. SA should win, but NZ will not roll over. It should be a good martch.

Posted by justtogood on (March 14, 2012, 9:54 GMT)

@DUDEX16 - That has to be to most stupid comment ive ever heard, SA scores 3 x 100's!!! not in form??? what would you like them all to score centuries?? The bowling was ok and Steyn had some great spells - between you and me he was very unlucky not to find a few edges and beat the bat ON MANY occasions.....

Posted by satish619chandar on (March 14, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

SA would love to have ABD.. He is the man who can bat well in all situations and score freely too.. As far as the match, if they bat decently, NZ can pose some contest.. The NZ batting will make the difference for sure..

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