New Zealand’s recent form has been impeccable, to say the least. Going into their all-important series against South Africa, it can be said that this is the side’s best chance to beat the Proteas in a test series. On the other hand, the South Africans have slipped down the rankings in simply no time. After a mauling at the hands of India late last year, they were thrashed at home by a dominant England outfit. With the likes of AB De Villiers and Morne Morkel missing this series, things will only get tough for the South Africans.
However, there can be some respite for the Proteas since their pace battery is expected to be back in form on lively pitches. In Kagiso Rabada, they have a genuine wicket-taker, who can turn the game around in a session. New Zealand coach Mike Hesson admitted the challenge ahead for his side, and mentioned pace as a factor.
“From a seam bowling point of view, they are strong, they have got a lot of variety,” Hesson said. “They have some bounce bowlers, some good swing bowlers, some seam bowlers so that will provide its own challenges.” “In terms of Kagiso Rabada, he has got pace, bounce, and skill and he is fresh so he keeps running in at you hard. He is someone we are going to have to spend a bit of time on. We know he is a quality bowler. And then when you’ve got Dale Steyn at the other end, there is no let off.”
Hesson added that Vernon Philander, who recently marked his return to competitive cricket, was a lethal package in conditions suiting him. “Vernon has played a lot of cricket recently so he has got loads of overs under his belt. He is a high-quality bowler. We saw him at his best a few years ago. He hits lovely lengths and we know he is going to provide a challenge there, most likely with the new ball,” Hesson said.
The New Zealand coach also hinted the possibility of playing two spinners, provided the wicket was on the drier side. “It depends on how dry the wicket is. If we think it’s going to turn – it turned during the one-dayers last year – we might play two spinners,” he said. “We wouldn’t be afraid, playing two spinners, if we felt that it was going to be dry and turn.”