Ed Hawkins previews the one-off T20 in Auckland on Friday and suggests the hosts have been underrated if they can bat first...
"Six of the seven games under lights here have been won by the side batting first."
2pts New Zealand if they bat first
New Zealand v South Africa
Friday 17 February, 06:00
TV: live on Sky Sports 2
Martin Guptill is still absent for New Zealand with a hamstring injury. However, they have high hopes for his replacement, Glenn Phillips, who has been labelled 'the new Brendon McCullum'.
Phillips keeps wicket for Auckland but he will play as a specialist batsman. He topped the run charts in the domestic T20 with a whopping strike rate of 143, notching 369 runs in ten games with three fifties and a ton. Luke Ronchi takes the gloves.
Considering Guptill is unavailable it is punchy that the Kiwis have axed Ross Taylor, one of their most experienced players. So that increases the burden on Kane Williamson.
There's no Adam Milne or Mitchell McCleneghan with the ball, either. These two are their top pace wicket-takers in the last two years. But that's probably because Trent Boult and Tim Southee, who are picked, have hardly played.
The big batting guns are all present. Quinton De Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers. JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien are also likeable in the middle order while they have the option of throwing in the mercurial David Miller.
It's with the ball where they are a bit of an unknown quantity. The loss of Kyle Abbott and David Wiese to Kolpak deals have robbed them of starters. Abbott, with 19 wickets, is only two behind of Kagiso Rabada on the wickets list in the last two years.
Rabada and Imran Tahir will shoulder a burden while Chris Morris needs to be tighter than an economy rate of 9.2 in the last two years. And the Kiwis won't fear Dwaine Pretorius or Wayne Parnell much.
The last ten first-innings scores at Eden Park read: 171-1/142-2/189-1/214-1/165-1/159-2/143-2/155-t/184-1/115-2. That's an average of 164. So the smart thing to do if a captain wins the toss is to bat and pile on the pressure. Particularly as six of the seven games under lights here have been won by the side batting first.
New Zealand are rated as 2.35/4 chances here with South Africa skinny at 1.758/11. We don't believe those odds to be fair.
The toss bias is the main reason for that. New Zealand, despite being without Guptill, should still be capable of an average score and then they will lean on Southee and Boult in bowler-friendly conditions.
The South Africans are powerful with the bat but they might not be able to swing through the line with impunity. On a flat and sunny track you might worry about taking them on but it's worth a risk.
There should have been some rain around earlier in the day but at the moment the forecast is clear for the start.
Top New Zealand runscorer
Williamson top scored on New Zealand's last T20 match at this ground with a half-century against Pakistan. He is 3.613/5. Sportsbook offer 4/5 that he scores 22.5 runs or more. He has busted that mark in four of his last five. New boy Phillips could be available as big as 6.05/1.
Top South Africa runscorer
Du Plessis and AB De Villiers both struck half-centuries on this ground in the 2015 World Cup semi-final. But neither was enough as the Saffers suffered heartbreak at the death. They are 4.84/1 and 4.57/2 respectively for honours. Amla is 4.47/2 and De Kock 4.216/5. Five years ago Duminy top scored in a T20 here as South Africa defended 165 against the hosts. He is 9.28/1.
De Kock is 4.5 for 22.5 runs or more with Sportsbook. He has busted that mark in five of his last six.
2pts New Zealand if they bat first
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017.
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