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Black Caps refocus on third Test

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/03/2017 Cathy Walshe

The omens are ominous for the Black Caps as they approach the third and final Test against South Africa in Hamilton later in the week.

Skipper Kane Williamson was left bemused and more than a little confused on Saturday as New Zealand slumped to an eight-wicket defeat in the second Test at the Basin Reserve.

The Proteas breezed past the Black Caps inside three days, chasing down a tiny 81-run target late on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series after last week's drawn first Test in Dunedin.

Apart from Henry Nicholls' first innings 118, and Jeet Raval's gritty second innings 80, there were few positives for the New Zealanders.

Most worrying of all was an inexplicable susceptibility to spin bowling on a seamer-friendly wicket.

South African spinner Keshav Maharaj grabbed 6-40 in a destructive second innings, adding to his 2-47 in the first.

With JP Duminy picking up 4-47 as South Africa bowled out the Black Caps for 268 in the first innings, spinners accounted for 12 New Zealand wickets all up.

Williamson, who endured dismal returns of two and one from his stints at the crease, was left bemused as to the reasons.

"To lose that many wickets to spin is disappointing and something we need to address," he said.

"We spent a bit of time in India where it went square and we showed a lot better application than we have in this match.

"We need to play a hell of a lot better."

The Basin wicket traditionally doesn't take a lot of spin, offering more movement for the seamers, and it seemed the wind provided more for Duminy and Maharaj to work with in terms of drift.

That ability to beat the New Zealand batsmen on the outside, when the ball didn't turn as much, was key in accumulating wickets, Williamson said.

"They were very, very smart in how they bowled, trying to spin it using the wind."

Worryingly, Hamilton's Seddon Park pitch is expected to offer more for the spinners, and South Africa have drafted in offspinner Dane Piedt to boost their chances when the third Test begins next Saturday.

With Mitchell Santner likely to return, and Ish Sodhi aother possibility, that doesn't overly concern Williamson.

"(Hamilton) does tend to be a slower surface, it does tend to offer a little bit of spin," he said.

"But when you play the best, there are some glowing things that stand out, and they do highlight areas you need to improve on.

"Those are the opportunities we have over the next few days to get better coming into the last match."

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