New Zealand v South Africa
Thursday 24 February 14.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Kiwis on brink of history
Here's a bonkers statistics which forces a double take: New Zealand have never beaten South Africa in a Test series. Hard to believe particularly after the Kiwis handed South Africa their second-worst defeat in game one.
It didn't get close to a contest. Naturally, New Zealand have kept the same squad and look certain to pick the same XI. So Kane Williamson and Trent Boult are not involved.
Nor is there a spinner in the squad, which says a lot about the expected sur-face at Hagley Oval.
Matt Henry was the star. His seven wickets in the first innings routed South Africa for 95 and the game was a wrap. The underrated Henry Nicholls notched a ton.
Probable XI: Latham, Young, Conway, Nicholls, Mitchell, Blundell, De Grandhomme, Jamieson, Wagner, Southee, Henry
Unsurprisingly for a team which was beaten in seven sessions, South Africa are expected to make changes. But they have limited options when it comes to reinforcing a batting line-up which was razed twice.
With Keegan Petersen out with Covid, South Africa need to be smart. Aiden Markram, in terribly nick, is likely to be taken out of the firing line for either Ryan Rickleton or the all-rounder Wiaan Mulder.
But they would be wise to add ballast at No 3 in the shape of Temba Bavuma. That's a spot too high for Rassie van der Dussen and debutant Rickleton, despite a first-class average of 50.
Lungi Ngidi is unlikely to be fit so South Africa could be denied the chance to reunite the attack which knocked over India 2-1.
Possible XI: Elgar, Erwee, Bavuma, Van der Dussen, Hamza, Rickleton, Verreynne, Jansen, Sipamla, Olivier, Rabada
It's the same venue but a different track. But we would not be surprised if we had the same style of wicket. One which assists the seamers and the swingers.
South Africa became the latest visiting team to be steamrollered in their first-innings. Here are the full list of scores by the away team: 95-126-297-242-104-307-189-133-505-138.
So the Saffers will buck some trend if they go past 250. We should be able to get under the runs par line from at least 265.5, possibly higher. Bet the runs line here.
Saffers need to bat first
New Zealand are 1.574/7, South Africa 4.30100/30 and the draw 7.4013/2. Bet the match odds here. The price on the home team is prohibitively short in a contest on a bowler-friendly surface.
There is a chance that South Africa have got a stinker out of the way. Against India they were durable and full of fight. There's no reason why they should have lost that.
If the toss goes their way and they bowl first they are more than capable of trading as favourites. They have a strong attack.
The weather forecast is pretty good with a bit of rain around on days one and five.
Bet the Sportsbook markets here.
Let's take some big prices on lower-order batters copping at big numbers. We go in again on the underrated Kyle Jamieson at 33s for the Kiwis.
Marco Jansen and Wiaan Mulder at 40s and 50s respectively are worth a small interest. Zubayr Hamza won with 25 in game one and that trend for low runs in the first-innings by tourists means the rationale makes sense.
Jamieson's steepling bounce should cause South Africa problems again. He was mean on economy and hopefully that will translate to more wickets. The 10/3 is a bet on win rate.
Bet the Sportsbook markets here.
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