Ross Taylor is yet to experience a test win at New Zealand's most famous cricket venue.

"It is one of my favourite grounds to play test cricket on," the New Zealand captain said of the Basin Reserve yesterday. "It wouldn't be a bad start over the next five days."

Too right it wouldn't, but whether he gets it, as New Zealand strive for a series-levelling win in the third test against South Africa, is another matter.

Taylor can reflect on considerable personal success on the ground, if not the three figures he's chasing to help press towards victory in the days ahead.


Taylor averages 59 at the Basin over his five tests - three losses, two draws - and knows several players need to stand tall if the season is to end on a high.

"In T20 and one-day internationals, individuals can step up and win you a game.

"In test cricket individuals do go a long way but three or four guys need to step up. Three or four very good performances will put us in the game."

New Zealand have had their moments in the first two tests, but been unable to sustain it. South Africa are formidable, with top class operators across the board.

They also have the momentum. Their mission is clear.

"I would like to see us keep that curve going up," said captain Graeme Smith.

"Obviously we've played extremely well on this tour in all formats, and would like to round that off with a comprehensive performance. Hopefully we can get on the plane with a big smile on our face."

The ground staff at the Basin Reserve have had their hands full with unsettled weather in the days leading up to this morning.

The pitch has a strong green tinge, but is hard and should have decent bounce - none of which will have the South Africans fretting.

Taylor shied away from any notion of "going for broke", risking defeat in the headlong pursuit of victory.

"No, we've still got to stick to the basics," he said.

"Whatever we do first, we've got to do well in the first session. We know we're not far away from competing with this side. We've been on top in a few situations and just haven't been able to ram it home."

New Zealand have shown themselves vulnerable to a rapid batting tumble. There was one in each innings of the nine-wicket loss in Hamilton last week.

So there will be six specialist batsmen in the side today, with Daniel Flynn and Dean Brownlie confirmed in the XI last night, Andrew Ellis and Tarun Nethula left out and Trent Boult almost certain to be 12th man.

Three seamers will do the job assigned to four in the last four tests, the bowling options reduced to bolster the batting depth. Smith all but confirmed an unchanged South African XI yesterday, and Taylor had a message to his batsmen.

"We've got confidence in you. Play your natural game," he said.

"We know we're not far away from competing with this side. We've just got to execute our plans."

The last time he batted on the Basin Reserve, Smith hit an unbeaten 125 as the South Africans won by six wickets eight years ago.

They have won four of their five tests on the ground.

With weather expected to trim available playing time, New Zealand's hands are full to have themselves, not Smith and co, smiling at the end of the match.

Basin Reserve, 10.30am today

New Zealand: (from) Ross Taylor (c), Martin Guptill, Daniel Flynn, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie, Dan Vettori, Kruger van Wyk, Andrew Ellis, Doug Bracewell, Tarun Nethula, Trent Boult, Mark Gillespie, Chris Martin.

South Africa: Graeme Smith , Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph, Mark Boucher, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Richard Kettleborough