New Zealanders left with much to ponder
New Zealanders 311 for 6 dec (McCullum 65, Ackermann 3-46) and 117 for 2 (Guptill 68*) drew with South African Invitational XI 359 for 7 dec (Kleinveldt 78, C Martin 2-39)
The New Zealanders gained further time with bat and ball on the final day of their practice match in Paarl but it left them with plenty to ponder. The bowlers only managed one further wicket, and seven overall, which will lead to questions about their ability to bowl a side out, especially as they were up against an XI made up of mostly amateur and under-19 players.
Martin Guptill benefited most from time in the middle but the main concern with the bat was Dean Brownlie who scored just 6 after recovering from a stomach bug.
Of the South African Invitation side, Keegan Petersen who plays for the local Boland amateur team impressed with both temperament and technique to deny a frustrated attack. Petrus Jeftha and Siya Simetu were the wicket-takers with aggression from the former and flight from the latter their stand-out features.
Four overs into the day, the New Zealanders' bowlers found their only success when Chris Martin had Shaun Libisch caught on the leg side. He did not add to his overnight score of 4 but Petersen was piling runs on with ease having survived an lbw appeal off Trent Boult that no-one but the bowler and wicketkeeper were interested in.
It was with his drive through midwicket that the Invitation side overtook the New Zealanders' score. With nothing to assist the bowlers the spinners were left to do the bulk of the work. The only other chance came three overs before lunch when Petersen smacked a Jeetan Patel delivery straight back at the bowler and although Patel got fingers to it he couldn't hold on.
While Petersen racked up runs on one end, Jeftha accumulated swiftly but almost without being noticed at the other. He brought up his half-century with a towering six over midwicket in the penultimate over before the break. The Invitation side declared at the interval to allow the New Zealanders more time in the middle but only Guptill cashed in.
The Test opening pair of Guptill and McCullum put on 63 inside 13 overs with McCullum playing a carefree knock. Playing in such a style it was not a surprise when McCullum, who had made 65 in the first innings, picked out a fielder behind square. It was of no consequence here, but New Zealand will need his shot selection in top order come the Test.
Brownlie was given permission to bat although he was not named in the tourists original 12 because of his illness. With Peter Fulton ruled out of the tour a concession was made but Brownlie did not make full use of his opportunity. He was tentative for the 13 minutes he spent at the crease and given out lbw to Jeftha having faced only 14 balls of competitive cricket before the first Test. He has, however, recovered from the virus which laid him low.
Guptill continued to bat with confidence and his pull shot came out on numerous occasions, while Daniel Flynn accompanied him to the early end when the players shook hands at tea. Guptill was not entirely satisfied with the time he had in the middle and headed straight to the nets, while Kane Williamson, James Franklin and BJ Watling had to be content with one innings.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent