27 Mar 2017

Black Caps openers leave Test evenly poised

8:25 am on 27 March 2017

Black Caps assistant coach Shane Jurgenson believes if they can survive the first hour of play they will have a good chance of bettering South Africa's first innings score.

Tom Latham

Tom Latham Photo: Photosport

New Zealand started strongly in their reply to the tourist's first innings of 314, and will resume on 67 without loss on day three of the third and final cricket Test in Hamilton as they seek to draw the series.

A patient opening stand from Tom Latham and Jeet Raval - the best partnership for the pair - was in stark contrast to their efforts in the first two Tests, where they scored no more than 16 runs in three innings.

They trailed South Africa by 247 runs when bad light stopped play.

Jurgenson is hoping the pair can come through today's early examination.

"Traditionally the wicket here, you saw probably what it did today just seem to settle down quite nicely and I think it will be good to bat on but I think usually in the morning as all venues here, you've got to be careful early. Obviously South Africa have a very good bowling attack, so we've got a lot of hard work to do in the first hour."

Tom Latham is unbeaten on 42 and Jeet Raval is 25 not out after surviving an impressive spell of South African pace bowling.

Jurgenson said they had set New Zealand up for a good run chase.

"We've had a good start, 314, I think the game's evenly poised. I think we're in a good position but still a lot of work to do, maybe more rain around but we can't predict that. We've just got to what we've done and I think the two openers have set us up for a good start."

Latham has been in struggling in recent times and Jurgenson said the opener's renewed confidence started in the field.

"Credit to Tom, he's worked really hard leading in to this Test match but I think more importantly he's just got a lot of confidence, even from his fielding and I think he took that into his batting today.

"I know there's no doubt there's a lot of support for him in the dressing room, the boys have been very vocal over each ball and great start for the two openers."

Day three is scheduled to start at 10.30am although rain is forecast for Hamilton today.

South African lead the series 1-nil.

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