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NZ vs SA 2022, 2nd Test: New Zealand Eye Top Spot And a Maiden Series Win Over South Africa

New Zealand will look to complete a maiden Test series win over South Africa and savour rare air at the top of the world rankings with victory over the ailing tourists in the second and final match starting on Friday in Christchurch.

Though lacking injured captain Kane Williamson and pace spearhead Trent Boult, the World Test champions were unstoppable in the first meeting in Christchurch, subjecting South Africa to their second-worst Test defeat ever.

New Zealand have suffered 90 years of frustration against the Proteas since being swept 2-0 at home in 1931/32, but a draw at Hagley Oval would be enough to end the winless streak.

It would also complete New Zealand’s set of series wins over Test-playing nations and put them top of the world Test rankings.

Stand-in captain Tom Latham said his team were focused more on what a win could do for the defence of their World Test Championship than the chance to erase an historical anomaly.

“On the whole for us it’s about the World Test Championship and you need as many points as possible,” he told reporters on the eve of the second Test on Thursday.

“Points at home are really vital. Nowadays in international cricket, it’s so hard to win away from home.”

With Boult still on paternity leave, New Zealand will be tempted to stick with the four-prong pace attack that bowled South Africa out for 95 and 111 in the series-opener.

Colin de Grandhomme’s back-up pace was scarcely needed in that match, but Latham said selectors would decide on whether to include an all-rounder after looking at the pitch in the morning.

South Africa’s tour has seemed ill-fated from day one, having to spend 10 days in COVID-19 quarantine upon arrival and then losing paceman Lungi Ngidi to injury.

None of their batsmen made a half-century in the first Test and struggling number three Aiden Markram, who scored 15 and two, looks set to be dropped.

Pace bowler Glenton Stuurman may also make way after a torrid debut in which he conceded 1-124. He could be replaced by two-Test quick Lutho Sipamla, or Keshav Maharaj if selectors opt for a specialist spinner.

Captain Dean Elgar hinted strongly at selection changes and demanded more from his team in all facets of the game.

“It is a little bit frustrating and disappointing that we haven’t fulfilled our ability,” he told reporters.

“Guys know what’s expected of each individual going into the second Test.”

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