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Proteas, NZ evenly matched - Smith

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iol spt mar14 Biffo

Reuters

Proteas captain Graeme Smith insists South Africa and New Zealand are evenly matched as the teams prepare for the second cricket Test match in Hamilton.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith insists South Africa and New Zealand are evenly matched as the teams prepare for the second cricket Test match in Hamilton on Thursday.

The rain on day five of the first Test in Dunedin interrupted a match which could have gone either way, with the Proteas needing eight wickets for victory and the hosts needing 264 runs for a record-breaking run-chase.

“I think there is unfinished business after the first Test match,” Smith said.

“There was a whole day that was set up for either side to be successful on, so I wouldn't say anyone bounced back or anyone outplayed the other.

“I would say that we are even-stevens going into this Test match.”

Throughout the week, much has been said about the weather conditions in Hamilton following the rain-affected first Test.

The weather forecast for the Waikato region is warm with clear skies, unlike the gusty wind and cold temperatures experienced in Dunedin.

“We are a lot more comfortable with the weather at the moment,” Smith said.

“The boys were pretty happy to get on the plane out of Dunedin. It has definitely been a lot more comfortable here.

“The pitch is pretty hard. It has hardened up a lot since yesterday (Tuesday). It has good grass covering and we have seen quite a lot of that this year back at home.”

Smith reiterated the need to start the Test well, without placing too much emphasis on the toss.

“Ideally we would like to start this Test match well. We don't want to put ourselves behind the eight ball early on and have to work our way back into the game,” the skipper said.

“It looks like the wicket might have a little bit in it in the first innings and maybe the toss will play a slightly more crucial role in that.”

The Proteas were dealt an injury scare when AB de Villiers sprained his right ankle during training on Tuesday.

De Villiers did, however, take part in Wednesday's practice with little discomfort and has been cleared to play, subject to a final fitness test on Thursday morning. – Sapa


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