New Zealand eye historic victory in second South Africa Test

New Zealand go into the second Test against South Africa on Friday, 25 February on the cusp of clinching the series and reclaiming the mantle of number one in the world.

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A draw in Christchurch would give New Zealand a historic first series win against South Africa in 17 attempts, while victory would not only complete a 2-0 series sweep but it would see them dislodge Australia at the top of the world rankings. 

The notorious bowl-first green wicket at Hagley Oval has been a happy hunting ground for New Zealand with eight wins from 10 Tests.

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But Kyle Jamieson – who has taken 24 wickets in four Tests at the ground – said winning the toss was not necessarily an advantage.

“When we’ve batted first we’ve been able to see through tough periods and come outside the other side, so while it’s a bit important I don’t think it necessarily determines the outcome,” he said. 

New Zealand won the toss in the first Test and rolled South Africa for 95 and 111, while scoring 482 in their one turn at bat. 

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While they downplayed the importance of the toss, Henry Nicholls, who scored 105 in New Zealand’s colossal innings-and-276-run victory, said familiarity with the ground was important.

“From a batting point of view, we know it’s tough but when you have that experience that’s the perk of having home advantage,” he said. 

New Zealand have kept the same XI

New Zealand have maintained the same squad for the second Test which meant no room for Trent Boult, who missed the first Test for the birth of his third child, and provided another opportunity for Matt Henry

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Henry produced the third-best bowling figures in New Zealand Test history with seven for 23 in the first innings, took two more in the second innings and hit an unbeaten 58 with the bat. 

Rather than hang their heads after the first Test, South Africa have wound back the clock to their New Year series against India where they lost the first Test and bounced back to win the remaining two. 

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“It’s about reminding the guys that as a team, we’ve overcome a lot,” said Temba Bavuma

“We know how it is to come back, how it is to come from behind when our backs are against the wall. We do have what it takes from a character perspective to do what we need to do.” 

The batsman’s second-innings 41 was the top South African score in the first Test, and the side is looking for something bigger in the next Test.

After an unbeaten 102 against England in his seventh Test he has failed to reach three figures in 41 Tests since.

“I’m not disappointed in myself, but the team is in a space where we need someone to put up their hand and do it for the team. As much as my form has been decent for the last while, until that happens, it is still a concern for the team, so I won’t be happy with myself.”

The first ball is due to be bowled at midnight on Thursday (SA time).

As always, be sure to stay glued to The South African website for the latest coverage of the second and final test in Christchurch.

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse

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