The first test between New Zealand and South Africa could end as a damp draw if forecast rain arrives in Dunedin, but that will not allay Black Caps concerns at the possible loss of senior pro Ross Taylor.

Taylor retired hurt on eight with a calf muscle tear on the second day but returned to hobble for a single and heave a six yesterday. He finished on 15 not out.

The usual recovery time from such an injury tends to vary from two to six weeks. That would likely rule him out of the Wellington and Hamilton tests.

"It's just a small tear so it was nice to contribute in a small way and get a lead," he said of his innings. "But it's still frustrating."


Despite his glum prospects, Taylor still teed off with a slog sweep onto the embankment.

"It was more of a fluke than anything. I couldn't put any weight on it [the calf muscle] so had to get forward. Then Morne [Morkel] worked out he just had to bowl short because it was hard for me to get on the back foot."

Taylor's appearance from the depths of the University Oval dressing room brought to mind a modern day re-enactment of Bert Sutcliffe emerging from the Ellis Park stands on Boxing Day, 1953 with his head swathed in bandages before attacking the South African bowling.

The cheer was certainly raucous as the 3296-crowd appreciated Taylor's courage, but he didn't get the same opportunity as Sutcliffe to farm runs.

"I wouldn't say my confidence was that high," Taylor said. "Walking to the middle I thought 'I hope I don't get timed out here'."

Taylor practised on his injured calf earlier in the day.

The prospect of his absence provides a conundrum for captain Kane Williamson and coach Mike Hesson as they hunt a maiden test series victory in 16 attempts against South Africa across 85 years.

Taylor has been in outstanding form following surgery on his left eye to remove a pterygium before Christmas. He made two half-centuries in the test series against Bangladesh, before scoring ODI centuries against Australia and South Africa to become the nation's record holder for the most tons (17) in the format.

South Africa is one of two test nations, along with Bangladesh, Taylor hasn't scored a test century against. His chances of facing the Proteas again in the game's longest form are in doubt.

New Zealand toured South Africa last year and probably won't play them before the 2019 World Cup, a tournament Taylor has mentioned as a possible finale to his career.

Based on middle order Plunket Shield form, Colin Munro and Neil Broom loom as contenders if Taylor is to be replaced.

Meanwhile, Martin Guptill will undergo a six week-long strength and conditioning rehabilitation programme before returning to cricket.

Guptill has suffered hamstring strains to both legs across the summer. He will miss the remainder of the New Zealand domestic season and the beginning of the Indian Premier League.

Black Caps physiotherapist Tommy Simsek said: "At the moment Martin isn't fit to play and the time we give him now to strengthen his hamstrings will play a big role in mitigating future risk."