But now, SA have dropped to seventh on the ICC rankings, while the Kiwis are resurgent in fifth place,
Added to this, the hosts will be without premier batsman and skipper AB de Villiers, who has a shoulder injury, and will thus be led by T20 captain Faf du Plessis. New Zealand will be led by a new skipper too, in Kane Williamson.
Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander return to the home pace attack to boost the experience levels. Philander, one will recall, demolished the Kiwis at Newlands three years ago, taking five wickets for seven runs in six overs.
Steyn is back from various injuries and then stints in T20 sides around the world, having not been picked for the Caribbean ODI tri-series, and will be eager to prove he is not past his sell-by date. Morne Morkel, meanwhile, is out with a back injury.
The Black Caps have few injury concerns, and will hope to see Ross Taylor continue the batting for he showed in Harare, where he plundered the runs. This Kingsmead deck should take more spin though, and Dane Piedt will be keen to halt Taylor’s efforts.
For the Proteas, young paceman Kagiso Rabada is the one to watch, with his raw pace and swingy action. Steyn said he would be handing the very fast bowling over to KG, and if anyone’s going to rattle the Kiwis, it will be him.
The Black Caps will look to former skipper Ross Taylor, after his multiple centuries in Harare, where he scored 364 runs in two matches, and his experience against South Africa.
Last five head-to-head results
2013 Second Test: South Africa won by and innings and 193 runs in PE
2013 First Test: South Africa won by an innings and 27 runs in Cape Town
2012 Third Test: Match drawn in Wellington
2012 Second Test: South Africa won by nine wickets in Hamilton
2012 First Test: Match drawn in Dunedin
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling
Dates: 19-23 August
Morning session: 10:00-12:00 (08:00-10:00GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:40-14:40 (10:40-12:40)
Evening session: 15:00-17:00 (13:00-15:00)
Umpires: Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth
TV umpire: Paul Reiffel
Match Referee: Andy Pycroft