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SA batting depth keeps Black Caps focused

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/03/2017 Cathy Walshe

Recalled paceman Tim Southee says South Africa's quality batting line-up is keeping the Black Caps bowlers focused ahead of Thursday's second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.

While the form of opener Dean Elgar is an obvious talking point, Southee says it would be dangerous for the New Zealanders to focus too closely on the 29-year-old left-hander.

Elgar was patient and disciplined in anchoring the Proteas' first innings 308 in the rain-affected first Test which ended in a draw in Dunedin on Sunday.

He brought up his seventh Test century with a 299-ball 140, then backed up with a 249-ball 89 in the second innings to earn man of the match.

"Elgar had a great start to the series in Dunedin, so there's been a couple of discussions around what we could do about him," Southee said.

"(But) we're not using a lot of energy on certain players. It's a quality batting line-up - they bat deep down.

"There are constant conversations around what we want to do, what worked well in Dunedin and what we can improve on here."

Southee was dropped for the first Test, with the New Zealanders opting to front with a twin spin attack in Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner.

It seems unlikely the Black Caps will field two spinners in Wellington, with Patel's current form meaning Santner is odds on to miss out to Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham or Colin de Grandhomme.

Southee's return boosts the New Zealand line-up in the absence of opening bowler Trent Boult, whose hip and pelvis problems haven't cleared.

Whatever line-up coach Mike Hesson and captain Kane Williamson opt for, Southee says there's every confidence the Black Caps bowlers will deliver.

"It's a luxury we do have - we're starting to form a little bit of depth, especially in the bowlers," he said.

"It's good to have those guys keeping us honest in our performance, knowing there's guys ready to come in and grab an opportunity."

He said that mind-set is also apparent in the batting line-up, with Neil Broom one player poised to make the most of his chances.

He'll make his Test debut after 30 one-day internationals and 11 Twenty20 matches for New Zealand, named after Ross Taylor's calf strain failed to improve sufficiently.

"He's played a lot of first-class cricket and been around for a while, so it presents an opportunity for him to come in and show us what he's got," Southee said.

"The guys back him - he's showed glimpses this summer that he's capable of performing at international level, and the guys are looking forward to seeing what Broomy's got tomorrow."

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