Heavy overnight rain forced day five of the third Test off, allowing the Proteas to win the series 1-0, and move up to No 2 in the world.
Another rain-affected match, another ruined contest, as the Proteas avoided what could have been a very tough escape route on day five. While the New Zealanders can consider themselves extremely unlucky not to have gotten anything out of this series, the Proteas won the crucial battles when it mattered most.
The result is that they were able to maintain their incredible record away from home, with only one series defeat in ten years, when they lost to India towards the end of 2015. It also means they move above Australia on the Test rankings, to No 2. New Zealand will have to continue their 13-year wait for a Test victory against the Proteas.
While there are some obvious cracks in the Proteas’ top order, they can consider their season an immensely successful one, having lost just one Test – the day-night encounter against Australia in Adelaide. They’ve otherwise won all of their series, against New Zealand twice, Australia and Sri Lanka, allowing them to jump up from as low as No 7 in the world.
The third Test followed a familiar pattern to the first, as it was anyone’s to play for going into the final day in Dunedin, before rain had the final say. The difference at Seddon Park was that the Proteas were staring down defeat. Sitting on 80-5 with a deficit of 95 runs, it was going to be up to Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, both on 15, to get them out of trouble.
The Black Caps will have to dwell on what could have been, and the crushing eight-wicket victory in Wellington for the visitors means the Kiwis leave this series empty-handed. They can be proud of their efforts in Hamilton however, as Kane Williamson’s 176 was masterclass, while the likes of Matt Henry and Neil Wagner coped well without the injured Tim Southee and Trent Boult in the bowling department.
It was a series that the Proteas can look back on as a largely fruitful one for the bowlers, with fleeting moments of excellence from the batsmen. Keshav Maharaj emerged as the leading wicket-taker with 15 wickets, including two consecutive five-fors, at an average of 19.93, while it was a successful return for Morne Morkel, who picked up 11 scalps at an average of 26.72.
Dean Elgar was South Africa’s top batsman with 265 runs at 44.16, and a handful of fifties for Du Plessis (198), De Kock (210), and Bavuma (189) means they can consider their series with the bat relatively successful.
The important thing for the Proteas is that they’ve found ways to win, even when they’re not at their best, and this Test series victory accompanies their T20 win and 3-2 ODI series win in New Zealand.
An IPL visit awaits most of the side, before the ODI players gear up for their three-match series against England in May, and before the Champions Trophy in June.
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