Cricket

South Africa seek top-order upturn after run ends

South Africa are back to zero, but they didn’t let their winning streak go without a fight. New Zealand have only beaten them twice in nine previous bilateral series and it would have been very difficult to see them coming back from 2-0 down. Now, though, they prepare for the Wellington match with an air of confidence.

The difference in Christchurch was that New Zealand had Ross Taylor take control of the innings while no one for South Africa could play the dominant innings. In their 12-match run, they had 10 individual centuries from six different players but there was an air of wastefulness about some of the shots during the run chase at Hagley Oval. Better now, though, than in the Champions Trophy.

Mike Hesson said there were “more answers than questions” for New Zealand but added that you can’t tick every box at the same time. That was a reference to Tom Latham’s form, the one significant issue they have to decide on, and whether to retain him as wicketkeeper ahead of Luke Ronchi.

Form guide

New Zealand WLWWW (completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa LWWWW

In the spotlight

Neil Broom shelved the relative security of his county deal with Derbyshire for another crack with New Zealand. It was a memorable comeback against Bangladesh with scores of 109 not out and 97, followed by a crucial 73 against Australia. In this series he has had two loose dismissals; cramped for room on the pull and then slapping a short ball to point. He could yet become the fall-guy if there is a reshuffle in the batting to retain the six-bowler balance.

Is South Africa’s shot selection starting to let them down? Quinton de Kock has twice thrown his wicket away with a half-century to his name, Faf du Plessis fell to a big sweep in the opening match, and then left an even bigger gate in the second, and JP Duminy, although twice defeated by clever pieces of bowling, has been a little soft with his dismissals. There is immense power in the order, time for a touch more responsibility.

Team news

Hesson indicated that New Zealand were getting closer to knowing their best combination. That appears to signal maintaining the two quicks, two spinners, two allrounders balance.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Dean Brownlie, 2 Tom Latham (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Neil Broom, 6 Jimmy Neesham, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult

Kagiso Rabada is available after missing the previous match with a knee niggle. If he returns, Wayne Parnell could be the man to make way after Dwaine Pretorius’ impressive outing in Christchurch.

South Africa (probable) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Andile Phehulkwayo, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

After the beautiful ground at Hagley Oval it’s back to a stadium. ODI cricket returned to the Basin Reserve for the first time in 11 years last January, but this match is at the Westpac – or Cake Tin as it’s known. It has one of the lower first-innings scoring rates of New Zealand grounds – 5.02 – but the totals can range from the sublime (New Zealand’s 393 in the World Cup quarter-final against West Indies) to the ridiculous (England’s 123 in the same tournament). The forecast is set fair with some warm sunshine.

Stats and trivia

  • AB de Villiers now needs five runs for 9000 (he has scored his 8995 runs from 9000 deliveries)
  • The teams have played twice at the Westpac: New Zealand won by five runs in 2004, South Africa by six wickets in 2012
  • Tim Southee is the leading wicket-taker at the Westpac with 23 wickets from seven matches, one ahead of Daniel Vettori who claimed 22 in 21 outings

Quotes

It’s great to be involved in games that go down the wire and, as a death bowler, it’s something you look forward. It won’t come off every time, but when it does it’s very satisfying – especially in those very close ones.

Tim Southee enjoys being involved when the going gets tough

As a batting unit we understood nobody in that top-six took responsibility. That’s the disappointing part of the result. Especially myself, getting in and not taking it home for the team. That’s something we pride ourselves on.

JP Duminy was clear on one area of improvement for South Africa

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