New Zealand will need to win again without injured allrounder Jimmy Neesham if they are to clinch the one-day international series against South Africa.
Persistent back pain resulted in Neesham missing the eight-wicket win in Potchefstroom on Sunday which levelled the three-game series 1-1. The injury is a concern for the 24-year-old after he spent six months this year recovering from a stress fracture in his back.
Team management confirmed he will miss the decider in Durban on Wednesday, with George Worker set to retain his place in what is expected to be an unchanged starting 11.
New Zealand must win the day-night game at Kingsmead to retain their world No.3 ranking. A loss will cede that spot to the fourth-ranked Proteas.
Pace bowler Adam Milne says the below-strength tourists are desperate to end their month-long tour of Africa on a high, having beaten Zimbabwe in ODI and Twenty20 series before squaring the T20 series against South Africa 1-1.
He is relishing the expected pace and bounce of Durban despite New Zealand’s impressive bowling efforts on a sluggish surface in Potchefstroom.
The all-Central Districts seam attack of Milne, Doug Bracewell and Ben Wheeler adapted well to the conditions but are confident of recalibrating their line and length once again.
However, Milne warned New Zealand’s batsmen will need to be ready against a home attack featuring world-class pace pair Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
“South Africa will come out hard as always and the likes of Dale and Vernon are very nice bowlers on a wicket that’s doing a little bit,” he said.
“But if we can adjust quickly and beat them to it, then it could be a good game.”
Milne says New Zealand’s competitiveness in South Africa despite the absence of six premier players should come as no surprise to cricket followers.
Neesham joins captain Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult and Tim Southee on the sideline through injury or unavailability.
Milne pointed out a Black Caps team missing McCullum, Boult and Southee beat Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates nine months ago under the same interim skipper, Kane Williamson.
“This is a young team led by a good leader. I haven’t been surprised at all in the way we’ve played.”