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A clash of unequals

Cape Town: New Zealand have done absolutely nothing to suggest they can upset South Africa in the first Test of the two-match series beginning at Newlands on Wednesday — and that may be their greatest weapon.

Not for generations have expectations been lower before a Test series. The hosts hold a commanding five-point lead at the top of the world rankings while New Zealand languish in eighth place, ahead only of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

The last time the Black Caps were in South Africa, in November 2007, they were humiliated in both Test matches, failing to reach 200 in four innings and losing by margins of 358 runs and an innings and 59 runs.

South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn began his ascent to the top of the world bowling rankings by taking 20 wickets at a little over 10 runs apiece.

Steyn is still top of the world rankings but now he has two team mates for company in the top 10, Vernon Philander in second place and Morne Morkel in sixth. New Zealand’s 38-year-old seamer Chris Martin is the leading Kiwi in 17th place.

A look at the batting rankings is even more bleak for the touring side. Not only do South Africa have another three men (Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers) ranked in the top 10 — with Graeme Smith at number 13 — but the tourists have just one, and he is not on the tour. (agencies)