The new calendar year starts off with a short two-Test series as world champions South Africa host a struggling New Zealand. This will be New Zealand’s seventh visit to South Africa, and the fifth since South Africa’s readmission. The Black Caps have never won a series against South Africa, home or away
The Newlands in Cape Town will play host to the first Test from January 2-6, also sometimes referred to as the New Year Test. The second Test will be played at St Georges Park in Port Elizabeth from January 11-15. Incidentally, New Zealand’s first two Test wins in South Africa (out of three) came at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in 1961-62, when New Zealand twice came from behind to draw the series 2-2.
Head To Head and Recent Record
New Zealand’s overall record against South Africa is poor – only 4 wins in 38 Tests, compared with 21 losses and 13 draws. However, three of New Zealand’s four wins have come in South Africa – where the two teams have played 21 Tests, South Africa winning as many as 14, with 3 being draws. The two teams met each other as recently as 2011-12 in New Zealand where South Africa recorded a 1-0 win in the 3-Test series. The last time the two teams played in South Africa was in 2007-08, when the hosts took the 2-Test series 2-0. The last time New Zealand won a Test in South Africa was in 1994-95, when they won at Johannesburg by 137 runs.
Form Book and Ranking
South Africa have justified their champions tag in the past few months, following their series wins in New Zealand and England with another in Australia. While they have not lost an away Test since losing to India in 2009-10, they have lost 3 home Tests in the last two seasons. They were the only team who finished the calendar year 2012 undefeated. On the other hand, New Zealand are ranked eighth, and have had a tough season so far, losing all Tests they played in the West Indies and India, before drawing the series in Sri Lanka. The Black Caps have failed to win an away series (excluding Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) since their 1-0 win in a 2-Test series in the West Indies back in 2001-02. Further, the visitor’s build-up to this series has been dented by a feud between Ross Taylor and the team management, which saw the former give up his captaincy and will not be part of the series in spite of being the team’s premier batsman.
Tim Southee will look to continue his good form in South Africa (source – 3news.co.nz)
Players To Watch Out For
Throughout South Africa’s sequence of recent away wins, the focus had been on the likes of Hashim Amla and Greame Smith, but Alviro Petersen has been silently lending solidity at the top of the order. Though he has often struggled to convert good starts into big scores, he showed his temperament while scoring 156 at Wellington and 182 at Headingley last year. This series can provide him a good opportunity to enhance his position as the country’s second-best Test opener. Tim Southee is fast growing into a world-class fast bowler, following his exploits in Sri Lanka. On the bouncy South African pitches, he might prove to be the main weapon of a low-key bowling attack to combat the hosts’ solid batting line-up.
A 2-0 win for South Africa, for they will not settle for anything less. Also, for all their ability to punch above their weight, New Zealand will need something extraordinary to prevent South Africa from winning.