South Africa's Quinton de Kock in doubt for third test against Black Caps
It's only a finger, but the Black Caps may see it as South Africa's achilles heel.
A tendon injury to the index finger of his right hand has cast serious doubt over whether wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock will play in the third and final cricket test against New Zealand starting in Hamilton on Saturday.
While his class is apparent - and was abundantly evident during the limited-overs matches at the start of the tour - de Kock still may not have been seen as the biggest concern for New Zealand when the test series began. The likes of Vernon Philander, Kasigo Rabada, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis may have been more prominent among threats needed to be blunted.
But the Black Caps have been done in by the spin of Keshav Maharaj and JP Duminy to date, while de Kock's 91 at No 8 in the first innings of the second test negated much of the good work the hosts did against the South African top order bats.
Should de Kock be unable to keep and bat for the visitors - even with extra padding in his gloves - it'd be a big blow for the visitors, who would field a debutant glovesman in Heinrich Klaasen, with a decision due on Friday. That's likely to be the only change for the tourists, who lead the three-test series 1-0.
Meanwhile, seamer Vernon Philander, who played a starring role when the Proteas last played a test at Seddon Park five years ago, said he wouldn't be put out if he didn't feature so heavily this time due to the success his team-mates have had with spin.
"It was a very slow start the last time we played here ... then it picked up speed quite dramatically when Dale [Steyn] and myself bowled them out quite cheaply," said Philander, who returned match figures of 10-114.
"The square looks a bit different this time round though," he said of the wicket two days out from the scheduled start.
Philander said Maharaj, who has taken 13 wickets at 13.92 in the series, had been "absolutely phenomenal".
"The wickets are a touch on the slow side over here. When you play home games, you're always going to try and turn it to your advantage.
"Whatever tactics they came up with, we have to negate."
Philander, who has taken just two wickets at an average of 62 in the series but has constantly put pressure on NZ's top order with his accuracy, is in the dark about what to expect from the pitch.
"It's been under cover anytime we rock up here.
"Speaking to the groundsman, he thinks it's going to be a touch on the slow side. He wants to leave a bit of grass on it."