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NEW ZEALAND V SOUTH AFRICA TESTS

Cruel blow as NZ name Hamilton squad

20 March 2017

Tom Latham has failed to pass 10 in his last eight knocks for New Zealand // Getty

No Ross Taylor for the Black Caps as they bid to square their series against South Africa at Seddon Park

An unchanged New Zealand squad will bid to square the Test series against South Africa in Hamilton after Ross Taylor was deemed unfit for selection.

Taylor is still to recover from a low-grade calf tear sustained in the drawn first Test in Dunedin which ruled him out of the eight-wicket loss in Wellington.

It is a cruel blow, with in-form Taylor having historically thrived at Hamilton's Seddon Park.

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Coach Mike Hesson and co-selector Gavin Larsen have decided against introducing new faces for the decider starting on Saturday.

They will hope pace spearhead Trent Boult recovers in time from a groin injury which sidelined him at the Basin Reserve.

There was speculation legspinner Ish Sodhi would be included on a surface which is expected to take turn.

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However, Hesson may still choose two spinners, with left-armer Mitchell Santner a chance to join offspinner Jeetan Patel in the starting XI.

That inclusion could come at the expense of any number of players. 

Allrounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme have both failed to deliver this series, particularly with the bat.

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There are problems further up the order, with opening Tom Latham having failed to pass 10 in his last eight international innings.

His selection now appears assured, with batting coach Craig McMillan calling on the nuggety left-hander to shake some of the errors from his game against the new ball and go back to basics.

Latham’s season nose-dived since February’s one-day series against Australia, producing scores of 10, 8 and 6 in the two Tests after an ODI run of 4, 7, 0, 0, 2 and 0.

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"Tom's obviously going through a tough patch but we know what a quality player he is, and has been for a number of years.

"He's got six test hundreds and bats in perhaps the toughest position in the order, and has done well for a long period for us.

"It's about him getting back to basics. One of his decisions was poor, to drive when it wasn't full enough to drive, and he acknowledged that.

"We need to get him back to making those good decisions and everything else will flow from there."

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Latham’s poor run has also put the pressure on captain Kane Williamson at No.3, but McMillan believes there’s no batsman better suited to the position – not only in the Black Caps XI, but in the world.

"I think he's the best No. 3 in the world.

"The reality is that when you bat at No. 3 you can be an opener, new-ball bowlers are fresh in difficult conditions.

“Kane is very mentally strong around that, it's a position he enjoys so I don't see any point at all in tweaking that."

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McMillan said being dismissed for 268 and 171 was unacceptable in Wellington.

"Whatever you're doing, whether it's bat or ball, you just have to be nice and consistent against South Africa," he said.

"And when those pressure points in the game come up, you have to have individuals stand up and grab them."

NZ squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls, James Neesham, BJ Watling, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Jeetan Patel, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

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