South Africa will look to wrap up the three-match Test series in Hamilton when they face off against an injury-ravaged New Zealand side.
Both New Zealand and South Africa will come into the final Test of this series battered bruised with key personnel on both sides feeling the effects of what has been a testing bi-lateral series.
On top of the injuries, there’s a strong chance that rain could cut the final Test short, something that’s reflected in the betting with the draw available at 11/20.
New Zealand vs South Africa | Saturday 25 March – Wednesday 29 March | Seddon Park
To Win Match
New Zealand | Draw 11/20 | South Africa
New Zealand will head into the third and final Test severely hamstrung by injuries to three of their most senior players. Neither Ross Taylor (calf) nor Tim Southee (hamstring) have any chance of playing in Hamilton while Trent Boult still hasn’t yet been declared fit enough to take the field at Seddon Park.
That leaves Mike Hesson with only four fully fit seamers in his squad, two of whom are all-rounders. In the absence of Boult and Southee, Neil Wagner will lead the attack from on end while Matt Henry – who has yet to feature at all in this series – may open from the other.
The lack of fit backup seamers shouldn’t be too much of an issue, however, with the spinners likely to find more joy than the quicks. We can expect to see both Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner to feature at the expense of Henry, who is probably going to be on drinks duty.
The rest of the team picks itself really with only twelve members in the squad. Jeet Ravel who impressed in the last Test will open things up at the top of the order with a woefully out of form Tom Latham. Kane Williamson will come in at first drop while a very green middle order will do well to stand up to South Africa’s excellent attack.
All in all, I don’t think the Black Caps have what it takes to challenge the Proteas. If the Test goes the full five days with minimal rain interruptions, we’ll likely see Faf du Plessis and his men claim a 2-0 series victory.
South Africa will be supremely confident heading into the final Test despite the injury concerns surrounding Quinton de Kock. The 24-year-old has damaged tendons in one of his fingers and may not feature. Let’s hope that sanity prevails (there have been suggestions that he could play with the finger heavily strapped) and he gets the six to eight weeks rest that he requires to heal.
The injury to de Kock means that we could see Heinrich Klaasen get his first Test cap for the Proteas. Klaasen has been ultra-consistent for the Titans over the last few seasons with an average just a shade under 50. There have even been suggestions that Klaasen could take over the wicket-keeping duties full-time to allow de Kock to bat further up the order, although this is highly unlikely.
While the bowling attack and middle order pretty much pick themselves, South Africa’s troubles in the top order will come under the microscope in Hamilton. Stephen Cook, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy have been poor with the bat of late and need to pull finger if they’re to retain their places.
This is especially true with the likes of Klaasen and Aiden Markram consistently putting in top performances at first-class level. Duminy and Cook are probably under more pressure than Amla to be honest. Cook has struggled for consistency while Duminy’s average of 34 isn’t good enough for a top order Test batsman.
All this should make for fascinating viewing when the teams take the field in the early hours of Saturday morning. There aren't many things more captivating than watching senior Test batsmen batting for their lives in foreign conditions – definitely something to keep an eye on!
Verdict: Draw 11/20
You simply can’t ignore the threat of rain here. In fact, 11/20 seems like a bit of a gift – get on! The only other result that seems like it could be a possibility is the South African win, although they’d need to put in the sort of performance that sees you win a Test inside of three days – not for me at 43/20.
Value Bet: Under 28.5 runs at the fall of first wicket 9/10
Both team’s opening partnerships have battled in this series. Early wickets have tumbled in the first two Tests and I don’t see any reason to believe the same won’t happen here. Batting conditions will be tricky at best, couple this with some out of form openers and you’ve got a tasty looking 9/10 value bet!