The first Test between these two sides was, for two and a half days at least, looking like a ruddy close match. Both sides were dismissed for fairly low scores, but in their second innings, the South African old, even older and not quite so old guard (Smith, Kallis and Rudolph) compiled a hundred apiece whilst taking a 400-run lead. New Zealand did look reasonably well-set heading into what should have been a tense final day, but unfortunately the rain ruined any prospect of a result or tight finish.
Heading to Hamilton for the second Test, New Zealand have already confirmed that Tim Southee has been dropped. His bowling was distinctly ropey at Dunedin, so they will be hopeful that whoever of Brent Arnel, Mark Gillespie or Tarun Nethula replaces him will contribute a lot more than Southee’s 0-140. With the pitch looking incredibly green at present, either of the seamers Arnel or Gillespie seem the most appropriate selection; as a leg-spinner it seems highly unlikely that Nethula will play.
Their batting will probably be unchanged, though such a long tail does require their top order to do more than make 40s, as was the main characteristic of their performance at Dunedin. Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor did show encouraging signs though, and it is on their senior shoulders that responsibility sits. However it will not be easy, because any pitch that is prepared to suit the home side’s four seamers will also be appreciated by South Africa. Although Dale Steyn is suffering from a manky foot (as evidenced by Sky Sport regularly showing pictures of it), a change to personnel at the moment seems unlikely, with AB de Villiers having tweeted that he should be able to play despite spraining an ankle in training.
Big Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn to blow away New Zealand, before Daniel Vettori makes a reasonable 45 with the tail. Chris Martin to not score a 5 off one ball. One of the South Africans to score more than half the New Zealand total. Graeme Smith to declare with his side on 800. New Zealand and Mother Nature to save the draw. 51allout to forget to write a review of the match and have to shoehorn one into the preview of the third Test.