Venue: Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Date: Thursday, 17 February
New Zealand – 9/10
South Africa – 9/10
An absorbing contest is in the offing during the first of two Tests between New Zealand and South Africa at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch where the hosts will be hoping to improve their record against the Proteas.
New Zealand are yet to beat South Africa in a Test series but they will fancy their chances to break that duck despite Proteas’ undeniable recent improvements against India.
The hosts are without captain Kane Williamson, fast bowler Trent Boult and retired Ross Taylor to make their mission harder and the Proteas are missing Keegan Petersen in the top order.
New Zealand goes into this two-match series on the back of an unbeaten run of nine matches but they were held to a draw by Bangladesh in their most recent series after they lost the match.
The Blackcaps will need to be much-improved in this series against an impressive South Africa team who have a frightening pace attack boasting Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Duanne Olivier and Lutho Sipamla.
NZ will be looking to improve their record against the Proteas as they have won just four of 45 Tests against their opponents and their mission has bene made difficult with the unavailability of Kane Williamson and Trent Boult.
The Proteas have never lost a Test match series against New Zealand and will be boosted by their recent series win over India in South Africa where they displayed collective effort with ball and bat.
South Africa will be without top order batter Keegan Petersen, who impressed in the series win over India, and he will be replaced by either Sarel Erwee or Zubayr Hamza.
A decision on whether to use a spinner will be taken at a later stage but the pace attack will be led by Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi with Marco Jansen, Duanne Olivier and Lutho Sipamla playing the supporting role.
A tough contest, which could go either way, is expected at the Hagley Oval and slight favour is with South Africa because of their historical advantage against their hosts.