Proteas look to take the initiative against New Zealand in second Test at Basin Reserve

Following the drawn first Test in Dunedin, the Proteas will be pursuing the second Test match against

New Zealand, starting at the Basin Reserve in Wellington today (16 March) as a must-win.

With two matches to play in the series, Proteas skipper, Faf du Plessis, emphasised the importance of achieving a favourable result. Asked if he would risk losing the match to win it, he said, “Yes I would, but I would weigh up how far I would be able to push the boundary.

“From a setting-up-the-game point of view, we will play the match like we play every single game. We will try and set it up so that if the opportunity presents itself later in the Test match, I will be looking at that.”

The batting line-up is, however, yet to fire as a collective despite posting a competitive score in the first Test. Du Plessis has thus asked for an improved effort. The skipper’s 50s in both innings, Dean Elgar’s man-of-the-match contribution and Temba Bavuma’s half-century were the only standout performances from the first match.

“As a batting unit we have been good at stepping up; different guys in different series,” said the skipper. “There has been a 100 in every innings that we have played but for me, we haven’t had that consistency that I often ask for from the batsmen. In every series, we rely on two batters to make a play in the top six, that needs to be better, we need four out of the six batters firing.”

The captain will be banking on the experience of pace spearheads Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, and the strike power of Kagiso Rabada, in conditions he hopes will be more ‘normal’ than Dunedin.

“Morne knows about the wind, he has spoken to us about it,” Du Plessis said. “The experience that he has is vital to us as a team and to the bowling unit. The confidence they take from that is a good thing for us. I don’t know if the conditions will be the same as five years ago but we will have to wait and see.”

Speaking on the wind factor, Du Plessis said, “We have Port Elizabeth and Cape Town where the wind blows, but it doesn’t feel like this. Especially for the guys who have to bowl into the wind, that is the biggest challenge for the seamers. Spinners have to bowl with the wind against them and sometimes that is difficult. From a batting perspective, it can work on your balance if the wind pushes you over.”

Read: Morne Morkel makes a return to Test match cricket

What are your thoughts on how the Proteas will fair in the second Test match against New Zealand? Let us know by posting a comment on the City Buzz Facebook page.

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