About the Match
New Zealand would be devastated that they let a golden opportunity to win a test against South Africa let go in the previous test match and now have to win the last to salvage something from the series. Can the Kiwis raise their game to match of the South Africans?
3rd Test Preview
New Zealand was having a brilliant, unbeaten summer of cricket until the South Africans showed up. The Kiwis almost seem to have developed a crisis of identity as they have forsaken their traditional seaming wickets for dry, spin friendly ones in an effort to neutralize the South African strengths.
This approach worked for a while in the ODI series where the South Africans lost on a tailor-made pitch at Hamilton and New Zealand will want to repeat the same result this time around.
There is a cloud of injury though over the New Zealand team as Tim Southee has been ruled out of the series. Trent Boult, the other seam bowling spearhead is still uncertain for this match and there is a real possibility that Neil Wagner and Matt Henry lead the bowling attack for New Zealand.
The two spinners in the squad, Jeet Patel, and Mitchell Santner are also both expected to play this match with support from the bowling all-rounder. It will be a close call between Neesham and de Grandhomme but we think that Jimmy will get the nod for his better batting talent.
This team composition has meant that New Zealand is struggling a bit with its batting especially as Tom Latham seems to have forgotten how to score runs. Jeet Raval has been impressive in the opportunities he has got so far but no really gone on to make the big score.
Kane Williamson is among the top 3 batsmen in the world, but unlike Kohli and Smith, he does not seem to have the support needed at the test level from his teammates. This means that Kane Williamson is more often than not playing with the fortunes of his team at stake.
We back him to come good in the decider and score a 70 plus score, though.
The other batsman that we think could make a useful contribution is Jimmy Neesham. He scored a lot of runs in the ODI series but has yet to fire in the test matches and this slower surface could just be the kind of track he makes his mark on.
Likely Playing Eleven
1 Tom Latham, 2 Jeet Raval, 3 Kane Williamson (C), 4 Neil Broom, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 BJ Watling (wk), 7 James Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Jeetan Patel, 10 Matt Henry 11 Neil Wagner
One of the main concerns that South Africa had going into this match was about the availability of Quinton de Kock. He has been ruled fit enough to play this match even though he is clearly not a 100%. This gives you an idea of the importance de Kock has to this team as well as the batting struggles of the other top batsmen.
Dean Elgar has come of age on this tour but Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, and Stephen Cook are all struggling for runs. Du Plessis himself is going through a purple patch batting wise but has not set this tour on fire as yet.
There are clear pressure points that the New Zealand team can exploit with this South African team and put them under pressure.
The importance of Elgar getting the South Africans to a good start cannot be understated in this match where batting is expected to get tougher and tougher as the game progresses. We would back Elgar and du Plessis to be the top contenders for highest run scorers while Bavuma could also contribute with some crucial runs down the order.
The bowling is in much better shape with the presence of Morkel, Rabada, Philander and Maharaj in the team. With 13 wickets in the series so far, Maharaj has surprised everyone by being the best bowler in this lineup and could add to his wickets tally thanks to the dry, surface expected to be on offer.
Maharaj would be our pick to take the most number of wickets once again even if the Kiwis are better prepared against his bowling this time around.
South Africa will go in with the same eleven as the last match in all likelihood.
Pitch and Conditions
There has been a lot of cricket played in Hamilton this season and the pitch is bound to be one the is slow and takes a lot of turn. The threat of rain taking time away from this game is also high.
South Africa To Wi