BLACKCAPS seeks season-ending victory

The BLACKCAPS return to South Africa’s high veldt seeking victory in the third Test against South Africa at Johannesburg’s New Wanderers Stadium to take a share of their season-ending series.

The Proteas lead the series 1-0 after a 128-run win in nearby Centurion, although the teams shared the spoils of a high-scoring draw in the second Test at Cape Town.

Hamish Marshall remains unavailable for selection after hip and rib injuries from the first test.

Marshall made his Test debut at Johannesburg five-and-a-half years ago, making 40 after replacing Craig Spearman.

State Canterbury Wizards duo Michael Papps and Peter Fulton are likely to repeat their opening partnership, and the seamer-friendly pitch at the Wanderers means a recall is likely for Kyle Mills.

The two previous Tests on the tour of the Republic have seen vast contrast in the pitch conditions.

The first Test at Centurion saw an unpredictable pitch which aided bowlers, with home pacemen Makhaya Ntini (10 for 145) and Dale Steyn (seven for 142) benefiting.

The Newlands pitch for the second Test had little in it for either pace or spin attack, with Stephen Fleming, with a ground record 262, capitalising on a track which yielded over 1100 runs from each team’s first innings.

James Franklin and the Proteas’ Hashim Amla scored maiden Test centuries, while Ashwell Prince accrued his fourth Test hundred. Scott Styris and Nathan Astle accrued 50s.

The Test wicket is not the one on which the Proteas hit their world-record 438 to beat Australia in March.

South Africa will wait on the fitness of their Test centurion Shaun Pollock. The veteran all-rounder pulled out of the Cape Town match with a lower back injury.

He has bowled in the nets this week but a final decision is not likely on his availability until shortly before the toss.

If Pollock is declared fit, Andre Nel may have to sit out with Dale Steyn likely to take the extra bowling spot.

Spinner Nicky Boje received five stitches to his right hand before travelling north, but has trained.

Captain Graeme Smith’s finger injured has healed enough for him to return to the slip cordon.

The third and final Test of the BLACKCAPS’ tour starts at the Wanderers today (Friday) 7.30pm NZT (9.30am local time).

BLACKCAPS: Stephen Fleming (c), Peter Fulton, Michael Papps, Jamie How, Scott Styris, Nathan Astle, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, James Franklin, Kyle Mills, Chris Martin, Jeetan Patel, Michael Mason.

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

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