PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, (Reuters) – South Africa will be looking to secure just their second home test series win in over four years when they take on New Zealand in the second test at St. George’s Park tomorrow.
The Proteas have risen to the top of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) test team rankings thanks to their wonderful away form which has seen them win back-to-back series in Australia and England and remain unbeaten on their travels since 2006.
However, South Africa have won just one test series at home since their 2-0 victory over Bangladesh in November 2008, a 2-1 victory over Sri Lanka in early 2012.
The Proteas will be confident of winning the second and final test against New Zealand after demolishing the Black Caps by an innings and 27 runs inside three days in the first test in Cape Town.
The visitors were shot out for just 45 runs on the first morning of the test, a period of play that New Zealand coach Mike Hesson described as a “horror session”.
They will not face their first-innings tormentor Vernon Philander after the seamer was ruled out of the match with a hamstring strain and they showed some fight in their second innings with 275, so South Africa are expecting a battle.
“New Zealand put up a bit of a fight in the second innings and that’s the nature of the Kiwis. For what they might have lacked in the player pool, they make up for with determination and guts,” said left-arm spinner Robin Peterson. “The conditions at St. George’s probably mean the game will go the distance instead of what happened at Newlands. I’m expecting the Kiwis to be a bit more at home here than anywhere else in the country,” added Peterson.
The pitch in Port Elizabeth is expected to be a low and slow track making it more like the pitches the New Zealanders are used to at home. Philander, who has taken an incredible 74 wickets in just 13 test matches, will be replaced by inexperienced fast bowler Rory Kleinveldt though batsman New Zealander Kane Williamson does not expect the hosts’s attack to be any weaker.
“They have a lot of depth and that is probably why they are the best team (in the world). They can call on blokes who will do the job. We are looking at all their bowlers equally in getting ready for this next match,” said Williamson. “They are all different bowlers and they complement each other well. Philander is probably one of the best bowlers in the world at the moment (but his absence) is certainly not a release in any way because there is Morkel and Steyn there that are also some of the best bowlers in the world as well.”
Pacemen Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are ranked first and eighth respectively in the world test bowling standings.
Williamson added that the Black Caps would be far better prepared for the challenge of playing South Africa after their comprehensive defeat in the first test.
“The last test was certainly a learning curve, especially for the blokes who hadn’t played against the South Africans, the best team in the world. That has certainly gone into our training to hold us in better stead for the next game.”