Kagiso Rabada's man of the match-winning performance in the weekend's final ODI could almost have doubled as a dress rehearsal for the start of the test series in Dunedin on Wednesday.

The tall, languid South African quick took three for 25, putting an immediate squeeze on New Zealand at Eden Park, from which they didn't recover. South Africa wrapped up the ODI series with a six-wicket win, and Rabada showed he'll be a handful in the test series.

He took eight wickets at 17 in his four games to top the South African bowling figures.

In 34 ODIs he's taken 57 wickets at 25.29; his 14 tests have produced 63 wickets at 21.76 apiece.

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Test captain Faf du Plessis anointed Rabada "the real deal" at the start of the tour and he's poised to play a significant part in the three-test rubber.

Rabada sees the two main forms of cricket slightly differently.

"One-day cricket requires a lot of skill, there's so many plans, wide yorkers, slower ball bouncers, yorkers upfront, back of the hand slower balls," he said.

"(With) test cricket I don't think you will need that many (variations) so you have a bit less of a headache.

"You worry about fields, fine leg, third man but test cricket is going to affect you more mentally in terms of patience and perseverance. You have to adjust and take things at a slower rate."

Fast-bowling prowess has long been a feature of South Africa's test cricket.

The likes of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have been big players for their country.

With Steyn recovering from a broken shoulder, and the tall Morkel in the test squad but not long past a back injury, the onus is on Rabada to lead the way.

The ODI series has thrown up the lively Chris Morris as a handy operator.

"It's a new attack," Rabada said.

"We don't have much experience. It's nice that we are going through this together.

"It hasn't been easy for the bowlers because pitches these days are really batsman friendly. We learnt really quickly and we have lots of variety."