A green top came inviting as New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson didn’t hold back from saying that they too would have opted to bowl first. He probably got an indication early on, and South Africa didn’t play a move wrong, securing an emphatic 8-wicket win.
The host got into a tangle, with Keshav Maharaj having a gala time over the opposition’s batting line-up. New Zealand checked past the 91-run trail but failed to pitch in a solid total, getting floored for 171 in the second innings.
Let’s check out the five talking points from the 2nd Test match between the two sides:
1. Duminy duped the Kiwi stands:
A career best figure of 4/47 by Jean-Paul Duminy was enough to screw off the wheels of New Zealand’s batting line-up. The all-rounder got the prized wicket of centurion Henry Nicholls early on with a quicker one which eventually ended up yorking the in-form batter. He then went on to pick one more in the very next over in the form of Collin de Grandhomme.
Soon, Duminy made it 3 in 3, as a dramatic dismissal saw Watling go back for 34. The tail enders fancied their chances and got paid richly too, with Jeetan Patel and Tim Southee putting up a quick-fire 44 runs stand and milking JP on their way before Duminy tagged the number 11 to his pack.
2. Henry’s masterful hundred
Coming in the 11th over with the hosts put at 22/3, Henry Nicholls had his work cut out. A few edges roughed through the Basin Reserve’s wind but on an overall, Nicholls’ innings will go down as one of his best-crafted ones so far in his 13 match career.
He rolled his wrist to Keshav Maharaj’s flighted ones and latched on to the likes of Rabada to bring up his maiden ton in Test cricket. He celebrated the feat with 15 boundaries before Duminy’s drifter got the better of the 25-year old.
The southpaw’s hundred was the only bright spot from New Zealand’s overall lackluster show in the Test match.
3. The Bavuma-de Kock affair
One goes after the bowling while the other steadies the ship. Big scores are the result of fruitful partnerships and on this occasion, it’s the seventh wicket partnership between Temba Bavuma and Quinton De Kock that did the trick for South Africa in their first innings.
The visitors were struggling at 94/6 as New Zealand sniffed an early collapse. But the duo put up a fine show to bail out South Africa from a nasty wrap up. Both the batters missed out on the three-figure mark but more importantly, they not only went past the Kiwi total but took an impressive lead at the end. Bavuma scored a 160-ball 89 while De Kock furnished an aggressive 91 off 118 balls.
Bavuma was more of a watcher throughout, getting on top of the ball and slamming the loose ones and that gave De Kock the license to go after the black cap’s attack. De Kock brought up his half-century off just 55 balls and his overall display helped South Africa post 359 on the board.
4. Jeet Raval stepped up in crisis
Only two batsmen apart from the opener could manage a double digit score in the second innings tells you the fact where the host lost the plot in the second Test. Jeet Raval’s fighting 80 saved the grace for New Zealand but that wasn’t enough to challenge the visiting side. Raval took a few blows, especially while facing Kagiso Rabada’s express ones. He took the one’s and two’s and held one end up while he gained no support from the other end.
He got the stars in his favor, after being dropped off Duminy’s bowling while he was on 53 and later on 67 when De Kock fumbled but he paved his way and brought up his highest score in the Test arena.
5. Maharaj lords over the opposition
Keshav Maharaj, playing in his only sixth Test match picked up his career best digits of 6/40 in the second innings which eventually handed him the player of the match honor.
Maharaj took the sticks of Jeet Raval and James Neesham in the first innings, as he bowled 16 overs under the sun, taking 2/47 with a decent economy. But his bigger impact came in the second innings, where he outwitted the New Zealand’s middle order and didn’t give them a chance to get back from the damage.
Some outstanding fielding complimented Maharaj’s feat but it was mostly his variations- loop, drift and flight that earned him the caps. A 171 shot out meant South Africa were chasing a mere 81 runs to wrap the game under three days.