With rain having ruined majority of the Test at Durban, South Africa and New Zealand will head into the Centurion
With rain having ruined majority of the Test at Durban, South Africa and New Zealand will head into the Centurion Test seeking a victory, which will also give them the series, since this is only a two-Test series. Apart from conditions, the facilities at Durban also came under the scanner as the ground couldn't be made ready for the Test. At the same time, it must be noted that the organisers got the timing awry as it rains heavily in Durban during this time. The weather prospect is much better at Centurion, and the teams will hope they make news for cricketing reasons when the Test begins on Saturday.
Although South Africa are going through a slight struggle owing to their rebuilding, they have a great record at Centurion, which would give them confidence. The hosts have won 16 of the 21 matches that they have featured in at the venue. While a lot of play was not possible at Durban, there was still a positive for the Proteas, that of the return of Dale Steyn. The South African speedster ran in with panache, and bowled at full throttle to trouble the New Zealand openers. Returning from injury, it was a healthy sign for him and the team. They will hope for him to continue with the good form.
Vernon Philander, his pace bowling partner, also made his comeback in the Durban game. While he did not claim wickets, he did manage to make an impression. South Africa's batting though was disappointing, and they would want to improve on their performance. Hashim Amla was the only one who looked fluent out in the middle, but he did not go on to make a big score. The openers Dean Elgar and Stephen Cook failed, which put South Africa under early pressure. Temba Bavuma played a decent innings down the ground, but stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy will be under pressure to deliver following recent failures.
There wasn't much New Zealand could take out of the game, but their bowlers should be pleased with their performance. Neil Wagner made an impact with his pace, continuing from where he left off against Zimbabwe. Trent Boult too was among the wickets while Mitchell Santner was also successful in claiming a couple of scalps. Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell will need to make a better impact that they did in Durban.
As for their batting, the Kiwis only faced a few hostile overs from Steyn, during which they lost their openers Tom Latham and Martin Guptill. Both were in stupendous form against the Zimbabweans, but they will need to raise their games to another level against the fiery Proteas. Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, as they have been for the Kiwis in the last couple of seasons, will again hold the key for New Zealand with the bat. Contributions will also expected from Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling. How the Kiwis deal with the South African bowling fire power could decide the Test.