|Scorecard:||South Africa v New Zealand|
|Event:||New Zealand in South Africa 2012/13|
DateLine: 10th January 2013
South Africa v New Zealand
2nd Test 2013
New Zealand's score in the first innings at Cape Town which was 45 all out continued their horror showings in 2012. In bad times, when everything is at rock bottom, finding a silver lining in a dark cloud is a tough task. For the Kiwis, who are testing the bottoms of a deep, dark well, the second Test offers them another chance to bring light into their tunnel.
South Africa’s home record over the last few years has been rather unconvincing. For a juggernaut on the road – a team that hasn't lost an away series since 2006 – their performances on home turf have been somewhat frustrating. For a team of such power, they have underperformed, but things are changing now.
Last year, they beat Sri Lanka 2-1 on home soil and went on to claim series victories away from home in New Zealand, England and Australia. Now, another opportunity awaits, a thrashing of New Zealand on home ground.
The Proteas return to Port Elizabeth for a Test for the first time since 2007, and while the last three Tests they played there were lost, it’s a new side now, with new ideals and a new-found power and determination.
A series whitewash beckons: on paper, South Africa trumps New Zealand in every way, and even with Vernon Philander ruled out of action for the second Test, the Proteas should still have more than enough in the tank to win convincingly.
The Proteas were, as expected, dominant in the first Test but did encounter some resistance at times. New Zealand's bowlers kept better discipline on the second morning and had the South Africans struggling for fluidity. However, being under the cosh for a session or two is nothing new to this South African side. The hallmark of their rise to number one has been their ability to absorb pressure maturely, and counter-punch when the time is right. South Africa's reputation precedes it at the moment, and the expectations that come alongside are tremendous. Nothing but another demolition job will do, especially against such timid opposition.
It is also crucial to maintain the standard associated with a number one Test ranking. The Proteas need to put the series to bed convincingly, since the English are hot on their heels – in fact, they're just five points behind after that great comeback in India. A clean sweep will see the Proteas edge one more point ahead of England, with a series against Pakistan still to come.
South African coach Gary Kirsten has often spoken about how he wants his Test team to be the best in the world, and while they are there now, they can't simply languish in a luxurious bubble. If they want to dominate Test cricket for the next few months, they need to seize the opportunities handed to them.
The top order looks in good form and the bowling unit looks well oiled, so for all intents and purposes, the Test at St. George's starting on 11 January 2013 is for sure in South Africa’s grasp. Robin Peterson returns to his home turf, a wicket which is generally slower and lower and provides assistance for spinners, provided the wind stays at bay. The bowling all-rounder has looked in good shape since returning to the Test side, and if he can exploit both, the weakness of the Black Caps' batsmen as well as the conditions, he could be in for a good run. If there ever was a time to send a message to the Test cricketing fraternity about their intentions, this is their best chance to do so.
The Black Caps, unfortunately considering a relatively proud history, are completely outclassed at this level against this side. The South African bowling attack is the envy of world cricket and as pathetic as their 45-run first innings effort was, far better batting lineups have succumbed to the Proteas quickly with their tails up. Martin Guptill doesn’t strike one as a Test player, his shot selection is baffling to say the least. However, at the moment he is a handy player to have in the squad. The Black Caps are likely to enter this test with the same batting lineup. Considering this is their clear weak point, it does not bode well for the tourists.
For the Kiwis, the century by Dean Brownlie in the second innings at Cape Town was the only consolation in an otherwise horror show by the New Zealand batsmen. Once again, the top order folded up meekly against the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. With skipper Brendon McCullum continuing to blow hot and cold at the top, the opening conundrum is the biggest stumbling block for New Zealand. The failure of the openers has put immense pressure on the middle order. If the tourists are to put up a fight, then they will have to sort out their batting problems.
However, McCullum has hinted that if there are changes in the team, it could come in the bowling department. Neil Wagner, who made his debut against the West Indies in August, might get the nod ahead of Chris Martin, who was inconsistent in the first Test. Wagner, who is known to be an aggressive hit the deck bowler, might find the conditions at Port Elizabeth to his liking. In the spin department, Jeetan Patel, who hardly troubled the South African batsmen in the first Test, might be replaced by Bruce Martin. Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell will once again be shouldering a heavy burden and they will be the key if New Zealand are to bother the hosts.
Cricket simply cannot exist without rain, and some drops are forecast during the Test with the odd shower expected on the weekend. While the weather shouldn’t intervene too much, it does mean that the Test will probably go the full five days.
South Africa (from): Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (w), Morne Morkel, Rory Kleinveldt, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Graeme Smith (c), Dean Elgar, Alviro Petersen, Vernon Philander, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Jacques Rudolph
New Zealand (from): Brendon McCullum(w/c), Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Doug Bracewell, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Daniel Flynn, Chris Martin, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie, Bruce Martin, Jeetan Patel, BJ Watling
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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