South Africa to displace Kiwis in Test ranking

Published: Thursday, May 4, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg :South Africa will be aiming to climb above New Zealand in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings when they meet the Black Caps in the third and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium.

South Africa, currently ranked one place behind New Zealand who are in fifth, lead the series 1-0 and a win or a draw will mean the two sides swop places.

But South Africa will be pushing for a win, rather than a draw.

"There is one more Test match left in the summer for us and we want to end the summer well," said captain Graeme Smith, who said South Africa only settled for a draw in the second Test in Cape Town because New Zealand batted on into the third day before declaring their first innings.

Hashim Amla, who scored a century on his recall to the side in Cape Town, said: "Our first objective is to win. If you go out just looking for a draw, you can very easily land yourself in hot water.

"So we will be playing positive cricket, which has been the team's motto, and we are hoping to come away with a 2-0 series win."

New Zealand will have a selection dilemma ahead of a match to be played on a pitch likely to help seam bowlers. Off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who took three wickets on his debut and batted promisingly in Cape Town, could be left out to make room for an extra seamer, probably Kyle Mills.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said after the Cape Town Test that he was disappointed not to have an opportunity to win the series but that his team would be pushing hard to share the honours by winning at the Wanderers.

But Fleming may not have the armoury at his disposal to match the South Africans, who won convincingly by 128 runs in the first Test at Centurion. The match was played in conditions similar to those expected in Johannesburg, although temperatures have plunged as the South African winter approaches.

With high stands around the ground, the match could be plagued by stoppages for bad light as shadows cross the ground because of early sunsets, despite play starting at the unusually early time of 9.30am.

South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock is expected to return to the side provided he has recovered from a lower back injury, while left-arm spinner Nicky Boje will need to show he has fully recovered after having five stitches in a cut right hand during the Newlands Test.

Even if Boje is fit, he could lose out to Andrew Hall if South Africa opt for an all-seam attack.

New Zealand's top order batsmen have struggled against the South African pace bowlers, with the exception of Fleming, who made 262 in the second Test, and the tourists will hope Hamish Marshall is fit to play after missing the second Test because of a rib injury.

Likely teams:

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Boeta Dippenaar, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Nicky Boje or Andrew Hall, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini.

New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Michael Papps or Hamish Marshall, Peter Fulton, Scott Styris, Nathan Astle, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, James Franklin, Jeetan Patel or Kyle Mills, Chris Martin.

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (SRI), Darrell Hair (AUS).

TV umpire: Ian Howell (RSA).

Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI).

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