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NZ must be up for the fight: Watling

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/08/2016

BJ Watling says New Zealand will have to be "up for the fight" if they are to win their first Test series against South Africa.

After a comfortable 2-0 series win against Zimbabwe on batsman and spin-friendly wickets, the Black Caps will face a definite change of pace when the first Test begins at Kingsmead, Durban, on Friday night (NZT).

With pacemen Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kasigo Rabada likely to spearhead the Proteas' bowling attack and quality batsmen in Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy, Watling admits New Zealand will need to step up a level across every facet of their game to challenge the South Africans.

"The quality of their pace attack is always going to be up there with the best in the world," said the 31-year-old wicketkeeper, who was born in Durban and lived there until he was nine.

"As a batting group we'll have to up to it.

"As a seaming group we'll have to step it up again too. We've got to make sure we adjust quickly and make sure we're up for the fight."

South Africa have not played a Test since the series against England in January and are missing two key players in AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel with injury.

But Watling insists that is unlikely to be much of an advantage to the New Zealanders.

"The quality of depth that they have we know it's going to be just as tough," he said.

"It's a big loss for them (having no de Villiers and Morkel) but you can look through their seamers and their batting line-up as well has got some experience there with Amla and du Plessis. It will still be a huge challenge for us to win this test and test series."

The match is the first time a Test has been played at Kingsmead in August, so both sides are venturing into the unknown a little when it comes to the pitch.

"The first innings might be a bit seamer-friendly," said Watling.

"But from the few bits of footage at Kingsmead, it looks like there is a little bit of assistance for the spinners as well. I'm pretty sure we're preparing to handle both."

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