New Zealand received a much needed leg-up ahead of Friday's second test against South Africa, with Cape Town man of the match Vernon Philander ruled out with a hamstring strain.
South African management confirmed Philander, who aggravated an existing hamstring twinge late in New Zealand's second innings as he completed a match haul of 7-83, required a seven-to-10 day recovery period so would miss the test in Port Elizabeth. His Cape Cobras team-mate, Rory Kleinveldt, will replace Philander and make his third test appearance.
"With the Pakistan series less than a month away, it's not worth the risk of aggravating the injury," South Africa manager Mohammed Moosajee said.
The tourists, beaten by an innings and 27 runs in a tick over two-and-a-half days, will be buoyed by the news as they arrived in Port Elizabeth today to finalise their buildup.
Philander ripped through their top order on the first morning at Newlands, taking 5-7 in a magnificent display of seam bowling as New Zealand collapsed to 45 all out, effectively halting the match as a contest in the first session.
In four tests against New Zealand Philander has 28 wickets at 14.57, and this week climbed to No 2 on the world test bowling rankings behind his new ball partner Dale Steyn. Fellow quick Morne Morkel is ranked eighth.
Kleinveldt, 29, made his test debut against Australia in Brisbane in November, where nerves got to him and he bowled 12 no-balls in a wicketless first test. Things improved in the next match in Adelaide where he took 4-146, including the first three Australian wickets in the second innings, although he sent down another 11 no balls.
"It's obviously a huge blow. Vern has been a stalwart in the test team and his performances speak for themselves. He's a critical part of this bowling unit, but in saying that Rory has stepped up to the plate when opportunities have presented themselves," South Africa's spinner Robin Peterson said.
"Rory is capable of doing the job Vernon has been doing; they've been bowling in tandem with the Cobras for a long time and they've fed off each other's performances. I'm expecting a big performance from Rory in this game."
Both teams flew into Port Elizabeth today and South Africa took the one allocated training slot on a sunny, warm afternoon at St George's Park. New Zealand remained at their hotel conducting video analysis and planning meetings for what they insist will be an improved second test showing against the world's No 1 side.
Batting coach Bob Carter said the test side continued a worrying trend of slow starts to a series, after collapses in Hyderabad and Galle. This was followed, against India in Bangalore and Sri Lanka in Colombo, by much-improved second test showings, the latter a 167-run victory.
Carter said struggling opener Martin Guptill would likely continue at the top in an unchanged top-six. And he said the mental pressures of facing South Africa could be conquered, as centurymaker Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling showed in the second innings.
"From the mental side of it, I went back through the footage, I reckon it took 13.3 overs [in the second innings] before they bowled a ball down the leg side. That's 32.3 overs [with nothing down the leg side]. They are the No 1 team and have been relentless wherever they've played," Carter said.
"This is a great opportunity and challenge for us to go at them. For one hour and 57 minutes [on day three] we made them change their game plan [until Brownlie was dismissed]. For example they brought Robin Peterson on quickly and Philander changed ends. That's part of the mental plan we have to have."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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