<
>

Boult doubtful for Wellington Test

Trent Boult bowled just 15 overs in South Africa's second innings in Dunedin Getty Images

Trent Boult's availability for the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington will be decided on the eve the game. Boult is nursing a sore hip from the Dunedin Test and didn't train full tilt with the squad on Monday.

Boult left the field on the fourth day of the first Test after bowling just 15 overs in South Africa's second innings. He was touted to return on the final day that was washed out. Should he be ruled unfit, New Zealand can choose from Tim Southee, left out in Dunedin to accommodate an extra spinner and Matt Henry, who joined the squad ahead of the game. Henry, incidentally, isn't reinforcement; his inclusion was planned leading into the series.

South Africa expect Southee to return on a surface with the most bounce and carry in the series, although there is also a possibility of New Zealand including both Southee and Henry if Boult is ruled out.

"Southee is a quality bowler, very skilled, especially in these conditions," Temba Bavuma said on Monday. "Fortunately, we've played against him, I've played against him. We are aware of what he brings to the party. We will make sure we pay as much attention as we can to him and make sure he is not successful against us."

Bavuma has not yet looked at Wellington pitch that was uncovered on Tuesday, for the first time since Friday when the city's rains began More than 70 mm of rain has fallen over the last four days. Two days before the Test, the strip was covered in green grass, which may not have the batsmen smiling but should suit South Africa's attack.

"I haven't had a look at the pitch. I never really have a look at the pitch. We are expecting something quite close to Dunedin, maybe a bit more pace, maybe a bit more bounce," Bavuma said. "On the first day, we will just have to assess the conditions. In Dunedin we didn't do that as well as we could have. We'll make sure that we learn from that and make sure that in the first session, whether with bat or ball, we are able to throw the first punch."

With rain around, the groundstaff are racing against time to get the surface ready. "With the weather we've had we're just trying to produce the best wicket possible. It's been pretty tough going," Hagen Faith, the groundsman told The Dominion Post. "We're focusing on getting the surface hard and having the wicket ready for day one. That's the ultimate goal."

Heavy clouds and high winds dominated Tuesday but the weather is set to improve and clear up in time for the match, which Faith expects to be a cracker. "A lot of first-class stuff has gone down to that last day, final session, and we have seen that here with Test matches as well."