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Morkel back for Dunedin Test

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/03/2017

Morne Morkel © Rajanish Kakade/ASSOCIATED PRESS Morne Morkel Giant South African Morne Morkel will play his first Test in more than a year when the tourists walk out on Wednesday into the Dunedin chill for the first clash of their three-match rubber.

A back injury has kept the 1.96-metre Morkel away from the top level since January last year, when South Africa beat England at Centurion. He has played just two first class matches since.

However, captain Faf du Plessis says the 32-year-old is fit enough to play five days in the cool of the southern city, where temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-teens for most of the Test.

"He looks good. If he's not going to be able to play now we will never know if we don't take that chance," du Plessis said.

"All the reports say he's 100 per cent fine... he's bowled a lot of overs and he seems pretty confident so we just have to step out and see what he's got for us."

Morkel's experience from 71 Tests, which includes New Zealand conditions, meant he got the nod ahead of Duanne Olivier, who has one Test under his belt.

"I'm really excited to see what he's got. We've missed him.

"He's fresh, it's a long time away from the game and it makes him really hungry to perform."

Morkel was also picked for his success against left-handers. There may be as many as five in the New Zealand side.

"He's terrible to face in the nets as a right-hander because you always feel like you are going to get hit in the ribs but obviously the opposite to lefties it goes away."

Du Plessis said his side would have to adapt to the cold.

"It's not an excuse for anyone of us. We just have to make sure we rock up here with the right attitude and play some good cricket."

Du Plessis was confident they could beat the New Zealanders and predicted they would try something different to upset his side after bringing offspinner Jeetan Patel in for the Tests.

"I expect that throughout the series New Zealand will look to try and play two spinners... maybe they see that as an opportunity where they can beat us."

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