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New Zealand eye top position in WTC rankings with SA clean sweep

The hosts thrashed the Dean Elgar-led Proteas by an innings and 276 runs in Christchurch with the tourists capitulating for 95 and 111 runs, respectively in the two innings.

IANS | Christchurch |

New Zealand would be looking at a 2-0 scoreline in the two-match Test series against South Africa as a second win at the Hagley Oval will vault the World Test champions back into the top spot in the International Cricket Council’s Test world rankings.

The hosts thrashed the Dean Elgar-led Proteas by an innings and 276 runs in Christchurch with the tourists capitulating for 95 and 111 runs, respectively in the two innings.

Even if the Blackcaps draw the second Test, which will be played at the same venue but on a different wicket from February 25 onwards, they would snap a long Test drought against South Africa. The Blackcaps had last defeated South Africa in a Test in 2004.

The Proteas have dominated the Blackcaps since they played their maiden Test in 1932, winning 13 of the 16 series so far and drawing three.

If the hosts win the series 2-0, they will move to a rating of 120, “leapfrogging Australia on 119, with India third on 116”, according to a report in stuff.co.nz on Sunday.

“The Black Caps occupied the top spot for the first time in January 2021 after a home series victory over Pakistan,” the report said.

The side lost its grip on the top spot in December last year after losing the away series to India 1-0 immediately after the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE. Australia then took the top spot after thrashing the Joe Root-led England 4-0 in the Ashes in January.

A clean sweep of the two-Test series against the Proteas will earn the Black Caps 24 points and keep their hopes alive in the World Test Championship.

New Zealand skipper Tom Latham is well aware of the significance of the clean sweep against the Proteas, and they would be looking for a comprehensive display come February 25.

“There’s the historic nature of this series, but for us it’s about trying to put out performances together and those outcomes are by-products of the processes that we go through,” Latham was quoted as saying by the website.

“That’s something we talked about over this (first) Test match was being able to win those little moments and focus on the process and we managed to get the outcome in this Test,” he added.

Latham however cautioned that the South Africans will come hard at them in the second Test.

“We certainly expect them (SA) to be at their best. Obviously, things didn’t quite go right for them in this game, but we certainly know they are a quality side and we’ve seen that over recent months in the series against India, where they won 2-1. We certainly expect them to come back firing and we know how proud South Africa are as a nation,” added Latham.