New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day March 12, 2017

Taylor's absence an opportunity to apply pressure - du Plessis

Faf du Plessis drew confidence from Dean Elgar's knocks © Getty Images

South Africa felt they had the better chance to win the Dunedin Test had play been possible on the final day. South Africa, who were 191 runs ahead, with four wickets in hand and Faf du Plessis at the crease, expected to set New Zealand a target of around 250, and then put the hosts under pressure in the chase.

"If today was a full day of cricket, with New Zealand one seamer down and one batter out of the team, we fancied our chances," du Plessis said. "So it's very disappointing from that point of view."

Instead, South Africa will look to target New Zealand's weakened line-up in Wellington, where they will miss the injured Ross Taylor. Before the series, South Africa had identified Taylor and Kane Williamson as the two players they would need to dismiss early. Now, they only have to worry about one of them. "They are losing a big player in Ross Taylor and they will have someone new, which will create an opportunity for us to put some pressure on them," du Plessis said. "We saw in this Test that even though Kane Williamson got a hundred, if we can get through him, we can put some pressure on their batters."

Williamson took a softer approach to the match situation on the final day, calling it balanced and leaning towards New Zealand's ability to post a decent total, as they did when they took the first-innings lead. "It was pretty evenly poised. Batting last would have posted its challenges, but as we saw yesterday, it was by no means impossible," he said. "They played nicely and the ball started taking a bit of turn. If we were able to take the wickets quickly today, it could have shaped up nicely. It was a good game of cricket."

Despite appearing a bowler short, especially when Boult left the field with a sore hip, Williamson defended New Zealand's two-spinner, two-seamer selection. "It was an extremely tough decision and based on horses for courses. With three seamers, all performing very well, to leave one of them out was always going to be tough, but Tim is a great team man and took it really well and got behind the guys. He ended up fielding for most of the game, so it felt like he was out there with us anyway."

Southee is expected to be back for the second Test where New Zealand's selection conundrum will move from seamer to spinner, and early indications are that Mitchell Santner may miss out while Jeetan Patel is retained. "We have the luxury of having a few high quality spinners in the country who do different things. The main consideration going into the game is looking at what strengths we have and matching them up to the surface, and potentially how we can target some players in the opposition," Williamson said.

"All the spinners bring something different. Jeetan takes the ball away from left-handers, and the way he drifts the ball makes him threatening to right-handers as well. And his experience - Jeetan has played for a number of years on the international scene and has a huge amount of domestic experience in different conditions."

For South Africa, selection is unlikely to change much after Morne Morkel came through his comeback Test well, ahead of a surface with slightly more bounce at the Basin Reserve. "He looked really good," du Plessis said. "He was quicker than KG [Rabada], and, on a slow wicket, he was reaching 140kph regularly. Morne can feel really confident the way he is bowling."

The other positive for them is the performance of Dean Elgar, who fell 11 runs short of becoming the sixth South African batsman to score two hundreds in a Test. Du Plessis believes South Africa have got momentum in what has become a four-day turnaround. "It was good to get the first Test out of the way with Dean coming in and scoring runs and looking good. I always feel we are very good once we get that engine running, so we are looking forward to the second Test."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • muntas4920248 on March 13, 2017, 14:58 GMT

    Munro deserve a chance in test cricket with 50 fc avg. Nichols,Brownie get endless opportunity.

  • muntas4920248 on March 13, 2017, 14:54 GMT

    Colin Munro need a chance to prove himself in test cricket. but Nichols get endless opportunity

  •   James Crompton on March 12, 2017, 23:19 GMT

    It seems odd to me that Colin Munro who's worst stats are in T20s domestically is considered only a T20 player internationally when he averages over 50 in First Class cricket. I also think that he should open in T20s and one day cricket. That gives him free license to swing at the top of the order and get us off to a good start like McCullum did, with less pressure. When has has opened for New Zealand he has scored good runs, or for example in the T20 where he scored 100 after Williamson went out first or second ball against Bangladesh.

  • Bazza on March 12, 2017, 17:24 GMT

    Alexk... Did you even watch the game and see how 2 paced the wicket was?? Ball was keeping low sonetimes so quite tricky!

  • Alex on March 12, 2017, 17:03 GMT

    I find SA team lethargic , aimless and goal less in first Test. It was astonishing to watch this team beat Australia? May be they lost their mojo when they lost to australia in 3rd test. They still carry useless duminy , bavuma. There need to be pro active decision to be greatest team of all. Yet SA is mire with color battle. I am all for 7 blacks in SA team if they are all of quality of rabada. Unfortunately except amla they really have no good batsman. if there is no faf SA will lose even to afganistan and srilanka. SA lack intent to win. Yes showing intent but not stupid. I mean do not throw your wicket and run for single on every ball and upset opposition fielding setup and make bowlers think. This dok dok defense of gavaskar is ok if you trying to save the game in 4th inning. But when you want to setup score you run every ball as thought its last breath you take. I did n't like SA at all in first test. Whole team played negative and acted like walking zombies. Terrible.

  •   cricfan69564930 on March 12, 2017, 5:50 GMT

    the 5th day forecast was pretty easy to google faf...time to cut the excuses and the negative batting

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