The New Zealand cricket team is partial to the odd selection gamble under coach Mike Hesson, so could they play three specialist spinners in the fourth one-day international against South Africa in Hamilton on Wednesday?

The unusual prospect is worth examining, given the turn during the opening ODI at the same venue.

The five-match rubber is poised 2-1 in the Proteas' favour. The Black Caps face the prospect of losing their first home one-day international series since October 2014 after completing seven consecutive victories at home. South Africa inflicted the last loss, 2-0, in the World Cup build-up. Could it be time to dust off the nothing-venture-nothing-win file?

Taking the pace off the ball makes sense when bowling to batsmen familiar with faster wickets in many parts of the Republic.


Calculated risks have come with their share of rewards for New Zealand in recent years.

One example was using the tweaking trio of Nathan McCullum, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner to dismantle India for 79 and win their opening match of the World T20 by 47 runs in Nagpur last year. Nine wickets was the most India had lost to spin in a T20.

Opening the bowling with McCullum and Daniel Vettori, then supplementing the attack with Luke Woodcock to defend 221 against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup in Dhaka was another case-in-point.

Comparing the surfaces of Nagpur and Dhaka to Seddon Park is a stretch, but the principle holds true that New Zealand has a more liberal approach to using spin at home or away than in the past.

The return of Jeetan Patel's experience bolsters that faith. The off spinner's selection is a means of countering the three left-handers - Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy and David Miller - in South Africa's top six by turning the ball away.

Patel last joined the Black Caps for their ODI victory against Bangladesh on New Year's Eve in Nelson, taking one for 40 in a spell of auto-pilot proportions.

This match will be played on a pitch of Waikari clay, next door to the Patumahoe clay used on February 19. Traditionally that means it will be slower, a factor accentuated by grass damage due to a sustained spell of wet weather earlier in the summer. Rain is also set to hamper this build-up, but fine weather is forecast for the match.

On a wickets basis, any decision to use three spinners at Seddon Park requires faith in circumstantial evidence. In the six ODIs at the ground since the start of the 2015 World Cup, 26 wickets out of 92 fell to slow bowlers; four out of 25 batsmen were dismissed via turn in the two Ford Trophy matches this season. The intangible question is: how many wickets fell to pace bowlers out of frustration for what was happening at the other end?

"We'll be confronted by a different surface, but it has spun in the past," Santner said of his home ground.

"I'm looking forward to that in a must-win game. I need all the help I can get, otherwise I go the journey.

"If it is going to spin we've got good options, but [Imran] Tahir and [Tabraiz] Shamsi are handy, too [for South Africa]. 250 might be a good score."