NZ v SA 3rd Test Review: South Africa clinch series after rain washes out final day’s play

With a draw at Hamilton South Africa won the two-match series 1-0.

South Africa v New Zealand
HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND – MARCH 29: Ground staff supervised by reserve umpire Chris Brown (top) adjust the covers as rain delays the start of day five of the Test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Seddon Park on March 29, 2017 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

South Africa escaped with a draw in the final test of the 3-match series with the help of rain when a defeat loomed large on them. They were still 95 runs adrift New Zealand’s first innings score and were already 5 wickets down in their second innings at the end of Day 4. But early morning showers meant that the entire Day 5 was washed out and South Africa won the series 1-0.

Faf du Plessis had won the toss and elected to bat first but saw his side struggle against the Kiwi quicks. New ball duo- Matt Henry and Grandhomme took a wicket each in their first spells which reduced the visitors to 5/2. Amla and Duminy tried to get the innings back on track as they stitched together a 59-run partnership for the third wicket. Henry and Grandhomme came back to torment the Proteas in their second spell as they removed both Amla (50) and Duminy (20) in space of 10 overs.

Du Plessis took the fight forward as he batted with a lot of poise to score his eleventh test match fifty. Bavuma (29) and Rabada (34) made valuable contributions lower down the order but it was De Kock’s knock which pushed the Proteas score over 300. The 24-year old wicket-keeper batsman was aggressive in his approach and took the attack to the opposition by scoring briskly.

He struck 2 sixes and 11 fours in a knock of 90 which came off just 118 balls. After a poor start, South Africa managed to get 314 runs in their first innings. Matt Henry was the pick of the bowlers as returned with figures of 4/93.

New Zealand have never beaten South Africa in a test match for 13 years and they looked determined to change this abysmal record as they started positively with their reply. Morne Morkel struck first for South Africa as he got Tom Latham caught behind but not before he had compiled his 12th test fifty. He along with Raval had already added 83 runs for the first wicket. Latham’s departure brought the in-form Williamson to the crease.

Though he had twin failures at Wellington in the second test, Williamson looked in sublime touch at Dunedin scoring an eye-catching 130. The skipper started positively hitting a trademark-Williamson cover drive to Morkel on the sixth delivery he faced. He then lifted Maharaj over his head for his first six and looked set for a big one. Raval on the other end was solid. Both batsmen complemented each other and shared a 193-run partnership before Morkel struck again to dismiss Raval just 12 runs short of a well-deserved century.

Kagiso Rabada then struck off consecutive balls, though they were scattered over two overs, to pull back New Zealand. Williamson was cool as a cucumber at the other end. He completed his 17th test century off just 151 balls, to draw level with Martin Crowe for the most test centuries for New Zealand. He was finally out to Morkel for 176, failing to control a pull shot. Decent contributions from Santner (41) and Grandhomme (57) took the Black Caps first innings score to 489 and they took huge first innings lead of 175 runs. For South Africa, Morkel and Rabada bowled their hearts out and returned with a four-wicket haul each.

South Africa were left too far behind in the game. They had to bat out of their skins to save this test as winning it was out of the equation. Dean Elgar, who had a great test at Dunedin, was snapped by Grandhomme again in the second innings as he poked at an away-going delivery to give a regulation catch to BJ Watling. South Africa were further jolted when a mid-pitch collision between Amla and De Bruyn resulted in the latter’s run out.

Twin strikes by Jeetan Patel resulted in the wickets of Amla and Duminy as South Africa were staring down the barrel at 59/5 still trailing by 116 runs. Du Plessis and De Kock took South Africa to stumps without any further jolts remaining unbeaten overnight. The Proteas work was cut out and they had to bat for at least 2 sessions on the final day to hold on to their 1-0 lead in the series.

No play on Day 5 helped South Africa get away with a draw as New Zealand were left frustrated. After dominating the entire test match they were unlucky to not get the desired results.

South African skipper Du Plessis admitted that they were lucky that the rain arrived at the right time to save them from possibly losing this test match. “Everyone would say New Zealand can count themselves very unlucky. The rain has come at a terrible time for them,” du Plessis said. “They dominated this Test match and deserved to have a crack at us today. It’s a real fair assessment to say we’ve been saved by the rain.”

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It was a hard fought series and both sides gave their best during the course of it. In the end, South Africa won the series 1-0, keeping their wonderful overseas record intact, but it looked a lot closer than it.

Brief Scores:

South Africa: 314 (Quinton de Kock 90; Matt Henry 4/93) &

80/5 in 39.0 overs (Hashim Amla 19; Jeetan Patel 2/22)

New Zealand 489 (Kane Williamson 176; Morne Morkel 4/100, Kagiso Rabada 4/122)