South Africa 83 for 2 (Amla 38*) and 359 (de Kock 91, Bavuma 89, de Grandhomme 3-52) beat New Zealand 268 and 171 (Raval 80, Maharaj 6-40) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Keshav Maharaj produced figures of 6 for 40 to rip through New Zealand © Getty Images
South Africa were spun to a three-day victory by Keshav Maharaj‘s career-best 6 for 40, the second-best figures for a spinner at the Basin Reserve, a ground not famed for the role of the slower bowlers, as New Zealand collapsed after tea for 171. That left South Africa with a simple target of 81, which was knocked off in the extra half hour. New Zealand’s top order again struggled, slipping to 90 for 5, then the last five wickets were whisked away for 16 runs in 36 deliveries.
Once South Africa built a first-innings advantage of 91, it was always going to be difficult for New Zealand to take anything from the match – they had only twice overhauled bigger deficits – but the manner of their demise was out of character for a side that prides itself on resilience. While losing the top three to Morne Morkel‘s pace and bounce was understandable, to let the opposition left-arm spinner take six – with many handed to him on a plate – marks this down as one of New Zealand’s poorest batting performances in recent times, even with the qualifier of Ross Taylor’s absence.
Morkel claimed two in his opening spell, including Kane Williamson for his second failure of the match, before Maharaj started to make his mark. During a 14-over stint in the afternoon, he removed Henry Nicholls and James Neesham in the space of five deliveries with New Zealand still a run behind.
Jeet Raval, who made a gusty career-best 80, stopped the bleeding alongside Wellington recovery specialist BJ Watling until tea but there was to be no miracle this time. Raval had been given three lives when he was finally stumped by Quinton de Kock – who a short while earlier missed a similar chance – which sparked the cave-in of the lower order. While some of New Zealand’s batting was soft, Maharaj’s bowling was beautifully controlled – as his economy rate under two would attest – and he was able to feed off the pressure created by the quicks.
Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada, even though they claimed just one wicket between them, provided a clinical examination of the batsmen’s techniques: Philander with seam movement and Rabada with pace – he particularly roughed up Raval, pounding him on the gloves, in a passage of play the opener gained much kudos for surviving.
Jeet Raval battled through the majority of the day with a career-best 80 © Getty Images
After the brief skirmishes at the start of the day, when Morkel equalled his highest Test score, the contest went up a level as South Africa’s quicks armed themselves with the new ball. Morkel immediately caused discomfort and Tom Latham’s torment did not last long, when he sparred at a length ball and offered a simple catch to gully.
It meant Williamson was again exposed with the ball still very new and his stay was brief when Morkel made one straighten from off stump to graze the outside edge. Kumar Dharmasena did not detect the very thin nick, but this time du Plessis’ call for DRS – which was almost instant – was spot on and they had kept Williamson to a return of just three runs in the Test.
Broom did not have to stew too long on the prospect of a debut pair when he tapped the ball into point for a single. He was then given a thorough working over by an exemplary spell from Philander who probed and beat his outside edge with waspish movement. A couple of deliveries were like 130kph legbreaks and survival was the only option. That he achieved, but he couldn’t carry on far beyond the interval. In Morkel’s first over after the break, he edged behind where, in a replay of the first innings, de Kock took a flying catch in front of first slip. This time, though, the catch would have reached Hashim Amla, and it took a few moments for team-mates to realise de Kock had grasped it.
Then followed a crazy over of batting against Maharaj – it would not be the first – who had already been donated a few wickets in this series. Firstly Nicholls, who needed treatment for a blow on the hand, under-edged a sweep against a wide delivery into his stumps and then five balls later, Neesham came down the pitch, flicked in the air and the ball was plucked out at midwicket by du Plessis’ latest blinding catch.
For close to two hours, Raval and Watling warmed the hearts of the Wellington crowd on a cold day, but there was always the knowledge South Africa had wicket-taking options at hand. Just that Maharaj would not have been top of the list at the start of the series. He tossed a delivery wide to Raval, drew him out of the crease, and this time de Kock – who yesterday spoke about the battering his hands had taken on the tour – completed a swift piece of work.
In his next over, Maharaj produced a delivery he’ll want to frame for the rest of his career, the ball pitching on middle and spinning past Colin de Grandhomme’s outside edge to hit off stump. The rest was inevitable: Tim Southee slogged to long-off, Jeetan Patel fell to a Kagiso Rabada short ball and the helpless Watling heaved into the deep.
South Africa’s chase was without much difficulty although Stephen Cook completed two lean Tests when he edged to the slips. Dean Elgar top-edged a swipe against Neil Wagner moments before the extra half hour was taken, leaving Amla and JP Duminy to complete the formalities. This outcome will leave New Zealand in a quandary. They did not want green seamers for this series, for fear of aiding South Africa’s quicks, but the prospect of a turner in Hamilton could play into the hands of a man having the time of his life.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo