Johannesburg:New Zealand's inexperienced top order comes up against a strong South Africa pace attack when the first of two tests starts on Thursday at Wanderers Stadium.
Bowlers Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn played a central role in a 2-0 series defeat of the Black Caps in South Africa two tears ago, and this time a batch of Kiwi newcomers will be in the firing line.
Openers Michael Papps and Craig Cumming have played a total of just 13 tests, and neither has yet to hit a century yet. The 23-year-old Ross Taylor, who has played 24 one-day internationals, is expected to make his test debut batting at No 5.
The South African opening attack will be supported by Andre Nel, who starred in difficult conditions in South Africa's 1-0 series victory in Pakistan last month, so there is no place for veteran Shaun Pollock.
The Proteas will be able to call on the left-arm spin of Paul Harris, who took 12 wickets in the two tests in Pakistan the best performance from a bowler on either side.
In contrast to New Zealand's inexperienced top order, South Africa will rely on the consistent form of Jacques Kallis, resurgent captain Graeme Smith, the reliable Hashim Amla and Ashwell Prince, and stroke play of Herschelle Gibbs and A B de Villiers.
For New Zealand, the batting performance of former captain Stephen Fleming will be crucial. While he has support in the middle order from the likes of Scott Styris and new captain Daniel Vettori, he will have to survive what is likely to be a tough examination to be able to construct a decent innings.
The New Zealanders looked vulnerable to pace in their final warmup match, which they lost by 85 runs to South Africa A. The raw talents of Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Friedl de Wet took 15 of the 20 Kiwi wickets to fall.
Shane Bond will spearhead the Black Caps' pace bowling, but he has not been as successful against South Africa as he has against other countries.
However, Jacob Oram's medium-pacers will pose a challenge to the local batsmen. He took eight wickets against South Africa A, including 5-16 in the second innings.