New Zealand vs South Africa 2nd Test Preview and Prediction: Can the Proteas Fight Back?

Tom Blundell in action for New Zealand vs South Africa.
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New Zealand will look to seal their first ever series win over South Africa in this second Test match. The Proteas were on the receiving end of a hammering in the first match, but they showed their fighting spirit in an impressive 2-1 series victory on home turf over India and will believe that they can battle back to parity in this series. Who will come out on top? Read on for our full New Zealand vs South Africa 2nd Test preview and prediction.

New Zealand vs South Africa 2nd Test Preview and Prediction

Series So Far

New Zealand’s last forays into Test cricket had ended in frustration. In India, they salvaged a valiant draw in Kanpur only to be skittled in Mumbai and lose the series 1-0. Facing Bangladesh at home seemed like the perfect opportunity to bounce back, only for the visitors to score 458 in the first innings and rout New Zealand. The Black Caps bounced back to level the series in Christchurch with a comfortable win, but it was doubtless a frustrating series for the world champions.

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They appeared to take that frustration out on the Proteas in the first Test match of this series. Delivering a superb bowling performance, with Matt Henry and Tim Southee leading the way, the South Africans were bowled out for 95 and then 111, either side of the New Zealand batting line-up piling on 482. That condemned South Africa to an innings defeat and left the tourists in need of a marked improvement if they are to keep this series alive.

Expected Teams

Tom Latham, still standing in as captain in Kane Williamson’s absence, will open the batting alongside Will Young. Neither were in the runs in the first match, but they have shown their quality in the past and did at least manage to take some of the shine off the new ball. Devon Conway will continue at number three, with Henry Nicholls in at four. After scoring his eighth century in the first match, his will be the wicket South Africa want the most.

Darryl Mitchell will be the player most likely to miss out when Williamson returns, but is solid enough understudy in the middle order with an average of 39 and one century to his name after eight Tests. Tom Blundell, who made 96 in the first match, will bat at six with Colin de Grandhomme at seven. Kyle Jamieson will bat at eight. His steepling bounce troubled the Proteas. Southee will bat at nine with Neil Wagner at ten. Henry may miss out to accommodate the return of Trent Boult, despite career best figures in the first Test.

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Openers Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee were entirely unable to cope with the seam and swing on offer in the first Test. Aiden Markram, batting at three in the absence of Keegan Petersen, also struggled, as did Rassie van der Dussen. South Africa will need more determined resistance from their top order if they are to stand a realistic chance of beating New Zealand here. Temba Bavuma did manage to dig out 41 runs in the second innings and was probably the pick of the South African batters.

Zubayr Hamza’s struggles at this level continued with the middle-order batsman managing scores of only 25 and six. Kyle Verreyne has been making strides after his accelerated introduction into the side, but will surely feel he can deliver more. Marco Jansen will play as a bowling all-rounder, but like the rest of the attack performed indifferently. Duanne Olivier and Kagiso Rabada will both know they can bowl far better than they did in the first Test. After a poor display, Glenton Stuurman may be replaced by Wiaan Mulder or Lutho Sipamla.

Key Man

Young is perhaps the one man in the New Zealand top order whose place is not entirely assured going forward. He is, after all, the only man in the top seven without a Test match century and someone will have to give way to accommodate the return of Kane Williamson. That will likely be Mitchell, and Young has the quality to nail down a place, with five half-centuries and a batting average of 36 that is moving in the right direction. But if there is a time for him to make good on his potential, it is surely now.

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South Africa, meanwhile, need more from their bowlers and, particularly, Rabada. He is nominally the leader of this attack, but there are too many matches where he lets his line and length wander. The responsibility for South Africa’s defeat does not rest entirely on his shoulders by any stretch of the imagination and the bowling contingent’s figures were hurt by poor fielding. But Rabada must bowl better than he did in the first match if South Africa are to take anything from this match.

Prediction

This match will surely be closer than the first. The conditions are likely to be bowler-friendly once again and South Africa will surely make their hosts work harder for their runs than they did in the first Test. It would also be a surprise if they fielded as poorly as they did in that match this time around. But the Black Caps are masters of playing in their own conditions. South Africa learned that in the first match, just as so many other teams have in the past. Expect them to come out on top again.

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