Richard Mann has a couple of bets to consider for the first Test between New Zealand and South Africa which begins on Saturday night.
Cricket betting tips: New Zealand v South Africa first Test
2pts Daryl Mitchell top New Zealand top first innings batsman at 9/2 (General)
2pts Zubayr Hamza top South Africa first innings batsman at 4/1 (General)
Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook
South Africa’s two match Test series in New Zealand begins at the Bay Oval on Saturday night, 10:00pm UK time, with the tourists sending out a depleted line-up while the mainstay of their first-choice XI stays at home to focus on the ongoing SA20.
Much has been made of South Africa’s decision to prioritise its own franchise competition over a Test series, but we are told that financially, this was the only choice to be made in order to ensure the long-term future of Test cricket in the county.
I think it’s understandable to be frustrated and have sympathy with South Africa on this issue in equal measure, but this might not be the penalty kick for New Zealand many expect, with the Proteas still boasting a dangerous batting line-up in particular.
Keegan Petersen is a very good player and David Bedingham will be familiar to Durham fans for his exploits in the north east, while ZUBAYR HAMZA finally makes his international return following a doping violation which saw him banned for nine months.
Hamza is a player I’ve long had high hopes for and he’s shown plenty of promise of his short Test career so far, a half-century in India the highlight, but since struggling to hold down a regular place in the side.
I think he’s deserving of a long run and his domestic form since returning from his ban has been exceptional. He made a century for South Africa A against West Indies A in December, along with two more hundreds in South Africa’s 4-Day domestic competition, where has amassed 427 runs at an average of 85.50 so far this season.
His domestic numbers have always been strong, with 17 hundreds and a First Class average of 48.04 making for good reading, and to my eye, he just looks a very good player with the talent and game to go a long away. He can get opened up outside off stump, but who can’t, and you don’t consistently make big runs on South African pitches without having a technique built to last.
He gets the opportunity to really make his mark now, and I’m happy enough backing him at 4/1 in the top South Africa first innings batsman market.
In the top New Zealand first innings batsman market, I won’t pass up on the chance to row in on DARYL MITCHELL who is rapidly becoming one of the best all-format batsmen in the world.
A relatively late arrival to the international stage, Mitchell has certainly made up for lost time and now has five hundreds and nine fifties from only 20 Test matches, and an average that has swelled to 53.77.
Home and away, as England have found out to their cost, Mitchell is a force to be reckoned with and while Kane Williamson is often a tough nut to crack in this market, there are form doubts about a few others in the Kiwi batting order.
Not so Mitchell who looked in fine touch in the recent T20 series with Pakistan, and he rates a fair bet at 9/2.
Preview published at 1215 GMT on 01/02/24
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