New Zealand v South Africa
Wednesday 15 March 22.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
New Zealand are struggling with injuries. They have lost Ross Taylor and Trent Boult. Put another way, that's the experience of 6,030 runs and 190 wickets respectively.
At least Tim Southee will play after missing the draw in Dunedin. He will form a good new-ball attack with Neil Wagner. Colin de Grandhomme, the all-rounder, is expected to oust Mitchell Santner.
That gives a clue as to how worried New Zealand are about their batting. They can only really rely on Kane Williamson. Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls and Jimmy Neesham are completely unproven.
Broom is on debut. Otherwise only Latham has a decent average - of 39 - and he has been on a horror run of form.
South Africa must decide whether to stick with JP Duminy at No 4 or bring in an extra pacer in the shape of Wayne Parnell. Most likely they will remain unchanged.
That would be the best call in our eyes. Duminy is no No 4 but with everyone moving up a spot to incorporate Parnell or Vernon Philander at No 7, they would have a totally skewed batting order.
South Africa looked to be on course to set New Zealand a stiff fourth-innings target before the rain ruined the first Test. They battled well and they would have been delighted to see Morne Morkel return with potency.
They do need to reduce the burden of Kagiso Rabada. It was great he bowled in only one innings but he did send down the most overs. They are running him ragged.
There have been seven Tests played at the Basin Reserve in the last five years. The first-innings scores (most recent first) read: 595-183-221-192-441-465-474. Four of those matches produced results with an even split on the toss.
New Zealand are [3.85], South Africa [1.89] and the draw is [4.8]. We don't like to get with odds-on teams away from home ordinarily but it is hard not to reckon the visitors are going to win this.
The New Zealand batting was shaky even with Taylor in the ranks and an axis of Broom, Nicholls and Neesham at Nos 4-6 pretty much makes them unbackable. The loss of Boult is the final straw.
South Africa's batting is hardly reliable. Bavuma and Quinton de Kock are vulnerable, particularly the latter to Jeetan Patel who has got him four times. But man for man they have the edge and they may well have won in Dunedin without the rain.
The forecast this time is good despite rain in Wellington over the past few days.
Williamson, who is 16/5 with Sportsbook, has very little to beat it would seem. He went second in the world rankings with his century in the first Test. He has a great record at the venue, averaging 79 with three centuries and three fifties from 15 outings. One of those was against South Africa when he rescued the Kiwis from defeat. A bigger price which also appeals is the 12/1 about the redoubtable BJ Watling. He should be nowhere near as big considering the paucity of batting talent.
Duminy got a ton in that game and considering he is a player who often needs the psychological comfort of returning to a wicket where he has done well, there are worse 9/2 chances.
1pt K Williamson top New Zealand runscorer at 16/5 (Sportsbook)
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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