Black Caps in Dunedin—Tips & Tricks

At the time of writing, Martin Guptill has just put the South African bowling attack to the sword, with an undefeated 180 leading the Black Caps to a 7 wicket win. This levels the series at 2-2 with the final game to be played in Auckland on Saturday; thus by the time you’re reading this, the champagne will either have been popped or handed over to AB De Villiers and the South Africans.

What this One Day International series has done, however, is highlight just how evenly matched these two squads are, and build some immense anticipation for the upcoming test series. This series begins in our beloved Dunedin on Wednesday, and it is expected that the local body of students and old train-watchers will pack out the beautifully scenic University Oval. With that in mind, here are a few tips on what to expect:

1. Tom Latham to Silence the Critics

Since taking the wicket-keeping gloves for the ODI team, Latham has been in woeful form, scoring just nine in his last five innings. He is a different prospect in the longer form though, and looks to be NZ’s best opening batsman since Mark Richardson. Expect him to combat Rabada and co. strongly, and even consider putting some money on him for a century.

2. Southee to do Likewise

Southee is another man who has some serious questions to answer. His ODI place is in doubt, and his test place is by no means certain either. The University Oval does, however, offer fair assistance to swing bowlers, and this is when Southee comes into his element. After taking 8 wickets in the last test against Bangladesh in Christchurch, look for him to cover up his ODI woes with a few crucial wickets here. The good money is on a five-fer in the first innings.

3. Hashim Amla to Make a Mockery of the Bowling Attack

Perennially viewed as one of the best test batsmen on the scene with an average of 49.99, Amla continues to anchor the immensely powerful South African batting lineup. Although it offers movement, the Oval pitch also gives batsmen plenty of reward if they can endure this and get set. I’m unsure what the odds are, but with 26 centuries and 31 50s, it’s well worth putting some money on Amla for a 100.

4. The Black Caps to Come Close to a Result

Although the dominance of this South African side must be stressed, it also has to be mentioned that the Black Caps are still undefeated at the University Oval. That is a record they won’t be too eager to relinquish anytime soon. This statistic simply adds to the excitement—this game should be a thriller.

5. Mitchell Santner to Continue his Development

“Slinky” as he is fondly known by the crowds, has slowly begun to resemble one of our all-time greats, Daniel Vettori. With his wily off-spin and more-than-handy batting ability, he is becoming a vital cog in the NZ outfit. The partnerships between him and BJ Watling, who is well-renowned for his capability to make the tail wag, will be crucial if the Black Caps suffer a traditional collapse. With his slower starts to innings, test cricket is the ideal platform. Also look for him and Neil Wagner to bowl long, grueling spells and earn key wickets.

6. Philander to Warrant the Glen McGrath Comparisons

While Vernon Philander doesn’t have extreme pace, he has just about every other tool: unerring accuracy, sharp speed and the ability to move the ball both ways. This skill is reflected in his outrageous test bowling average of 21.40, and, when watching him play, it is easy to see that the comparisons to Australian great Glenn McGrath are well-warranted. Just like Wagner, Philander is exactly the type of bowler who will thrive on the Dunedin pitch; and with Steyn out, he takes the mantle as the leader of the attack. Book him in for a 5 wicket-bag in at least one innings.

This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2017.
Posted 11:41am Sunday 5th March 2017 by Charlie Hantler.