Winners, wet and the wounded - what to expect in the Black Caps v Proteas second test
New Zealand and South Africa drew in the first test in Dunedin after the rain made its mark. Here's what to expect in the second test, at Wellington's Basin Reserve starting 11am on Thursday.
Trent Boult is out. Ross Taylor is out. Two of New Zealand's key cogs are unavailable for the second test match against South Africa through injury, with Tim Southee and Neil Broom coming in as replacements. The question is, what impact will that have on the hosts?
Boult took four wickets for the match in Dunedin, for very few runs. He's been on a stunning run of late, snaring 24 wickets in his last 10 international matches across all formats, leading the Black Caps attack. Will Southee be able to replicate that kind of form having been dropped in Dunedin?
Likewise, Taylor has been scoring tons of runs as he pursues records in both Black Caps whites and colours. He scored centuries against both South Africa and Australia in February ODIs, and was one century away from tying Martin Crowe's test record of 17 for New Zealand. Can Broom step in and score at an average of 47?
Wellington has had a summer only in name. It feels more like winter for those living in the capital, and none more so than Basin Reserve groundsman Hagen Faith.
On Monday, Faith revealed that he hadn't seen the Basin Reserve wicket since Friday as 70mm of rain fell from Wellington skies over the weekend. The sun made a rare appearance on Wednesday, thankfully, but just how green will the wicket be as a result?
Speaking of Wellington's winter, sorry, summer, what can we expect from the weather gods over the coming five days?
Thursday is supposed to be a beauty, with the sun undisturbed as it beams into the Basin Reserve, but the forecast gets a little more shady as the week goes on. By Saturday, showers and a strong southerly are expected, so to win this match a team may have to do so in four or fewer days.
SOUTH AFRICAN DOMINANCE
South Africa have played six games at the Basin Reserve, winning four and drawing two. It's a fortress for the visiting side, which can't be good reading for the Black Caps.
Then there is the record of late against South Africa. You have to wind the clock back to March 18, 2004, to find the last New Zealand test victory against South Africa. That was at Eden Park in Auckland, a full 13 years ago this week. Since then, 14 test matches have been and gone, with South Africa winning nine of them.
Are New Zealand capable of breaking that drought in Wellington?
A GOOD TOSS TO LOSE
A lot has been made of the toss of late, and South Africa ended a 22-match streak of captains electing to bowl first in New Zealand during the first test, when Faf du Plessis opted to put the pads on.
Well, Kane Williamson could do worse than to lose the toss in Wellington and leave Faf to make his own call on what the pitch will do. Teams who win the toss at the Basin Reserve are 15-21-23 at the Basin Reserve. That's just 15 wins in 59 games, and a 25.4 per cent success rate doesn't seem all that good.
It will be the 60th test match to be played at the Basin Reserve, and what time has told us is the fall of the coin does little to help the winning side.