WELLINGTON (Reuters) - With New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor ruled out of the second test, South Africa will focus their attack on the wicket of Kane Williamson, who held his side's innings together in the first match, said visiting captain Faf du Plessis on Wednesday.
The hosts enter Thursday's test, the second of a three-match series, at the Basin Reserve without Taylor and leading pace bowler Trent Boult, who were both injured in the rain-affected drawn first match in Dunedin.
Boult would be a 'huge loss', du Plessis said, but New Zealand had depth in the pace bowling department with Tim Southee coming back after being omitted from the first test.
The key was to target New Zealand's batting and particularly the inexperienced middle order, putting added focus on the wicket of Williamson after the skipper delivered a composed 130 at University Oval to stabilise his side.
"I said before the series that if we can get rid of Williamson and Taylor there's a lot of pressure on the rest of the batting lineup," du Plessis told reporters.
"We couldn't get rid of Kane in the first test and they were successful as a unit. There lies the secret."
Taylor's replacement, Neil Broom, is to make his test debut at the age of 33, while number five Henry Nicholls is still trying to cement his place in international cricket. Jimmy Neesham's ability to get consistent matches has been hampered by injury.
"With a new guy coming in, it's an unknown," du Plessis said, adding that they may look to initially squeeze Broom, who scored a total of four runs in three one-day innings against the Proteas last month.
"It's up to us to put pressure on him and not give him boundaries and easy runs so he settles."
Du Plessis had full confidence that his bowlers, who warmed to the task in Dunedin, would be able to exploit New Zealand's underbelly, but the trick would be dealing with the notorious Wellington wind.
"It's a tough job, especially from a seamers' perspective," said du Plessis, who added with a laugh that the team's spinner might find himself bowling a lot of overs into the wind.
"We've got guys who are prepared to put in the work. KG (Kagiso Rabada), I certainly feel I can use him. He's a guy who's not scared of a challenge," du Plessis said.
"Someone like Vernon doesn't necessarily have to bowl quick all the time. He can bowl into the wind and gives you that control.
"And Morne has done the donkey work for years for South Africa. All three will be prepared to do the hard work."
Editing by Peter Rutherford