Led by a 26th career Test ‘five-for’ by Dale Steyn the South African bowlers overwhelmed New Zealand, for whom Henry Nicholls with 76 was the star in an otherwise dismal second innings effort. New Zealand were bowled out for 195 after being set 400 to win when South Africa declared at 132/7 after an hour’s batting in the morning.
It was the second hour of the morning which effectively decided this match with Steyn ripping out the top three in rapid fashion, and when New Zealand’s skipper Kane Williamson followed shortly thereafter, the result of a brilliant catch by Quinton de Kock off Vernon Philander’s bowling, the game was effectively up. New Zealand went to lunch at 18/4.
The final session was a mere formality, though NIcholls deserves credit for a fighting innings, in which he hit 12 fours and registered his highest Test score after spending over four hours at the crease.
Steyn followed his triple strike in the first session with the wicket of Mitchell Santner midway through the final session, clean bowling the left hander - and breaking the middle stump in the process - after he’d been dropped earlier in the over by Hashim Amla, who immediately left the field to receive treatment to an injured finger.
Doug Bracewell had some fun slogging three fours and a pair of sixes on the way to making 30, before he was trapped lbw by Philander.
Despite bowling with little rhythm throughout the day, there were two wickets for Kagiso Rabada late on, a beautiful yorker that smashed into the base of Tim Southee’s off-stump dismissing him for 14 and another full, fast delivery that trapped Neil Wagner lbw for three.
Nicholls was the last man out, caught hooking by Rabada running in off the fine leg boundary, giving Steyn his fifth wicket for the innings. It was the 26th time he’d registered that landmark and among seam bowlers only Richard Hadlee (36), Glenn McGrath (29) and Ian Botham (27) have done it more.
Following innings of 82 and 50 - as a stop gap opener - along with six catches in the match, Quinton de Kock was named Man of the Match.
Despite his success, De Kock said he was happy to shift back into the middle order, once regular opener Dean Elgar is fit. “I didn't mean to play so aggressively, the instincts took over,” said De Kock. “I think, Dean can have his spot. I'm happy batting lower down the order. Dean's built for that, he's worked his way and he deserves to be there and I'm going to be where I've earned to be at 6 and 7.”
Williamson admitted that it was a tough decision about what to do when he won the toss. Ultimately given the size of South Africa’s win it looks like the wrong decision to bowl. “If you said the team batting first would get 450, I would change (my decision),” said Williamson. “But the pitch was soft at first, and we didn't expect it to break up. It was a tough one.”
Du Plessis, playing as the stand-in skipper in the absence of AB de Villiers, made an unbeaten 112 in South Africa’s and said he was delighted to contribute a century in a substantial first innings which put New Zealand under pressure. He reserved special praise for new ball bowlers, Steyn and Philander
“Vernon and Dale make a huge difference, they are relentless, they don't give batsmen anything to hit. Hopefully they can play a lot of games for a lot of years,” said Du Plessis.
South Africa are set to move two places up the Test rankings table from seven to find following Tuesday’s victory.
The Proteas’ next Test assignment will be against Australia, Down Under in October and November. Before then they will play a series of One-Day matches against Ireland and Australia on home soil in September.
Independent MediaSouth Africa won the second Sunfoil Test against New Zealand by 204 runs, claiming a 1-0 win in the two match series.
Original source: Steyn sets up Proteas series win