South Africa trail by 164 runs with four first-innings wickets in hand at lunch on day two in Wellington.
The Proteas should be disappointed with their performance in the first session. After such an impressive display with the ball on day one, the visitors appeared to be in a strong position heading into day two. Yet, they conspired to lose four wickets on Friday morning and now find themselves in a desperate fight to equal New Zealand’s first-innings score of 268.
Nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada was undone by a Tim Southee yorker in the second over of the morning. Conditions were favourable for batting throughout the session, and there were times when the South Africans appeared comfortable.
Poor shot selection, though, accounted for JP Duminy and then Hashim Amla. Both batsmen attempted to whip the ball over midwicket, and both succeeded in chipping the ball to the man stationed in that position.
The New Zealand bowlers deserve credit for the discipline they showed in the morning session. They were certainly backed up the fielders.
After parrying the ball into the air, Henry Nicholls pouched a catch on his second attempt. That catch, which led to the dismissal of Amla, and reduced South Africa to 79-5, may well be remembered as a turning point in this contest.
Skipper Faf du Plessis attempted to take the fight to Colin de Grandhomme 10 minutes before lunch, but only succeeded in edging the ball to wicketkeeper BJ Watling. The dismissal capped a shocking session in which South Africa scored 80-4.
The Proteas have been forced to readjust their goals, following the loss of four wickets in the morning session. Initially, they may have gone into day two with the ambition of surpassing New Zealand’s 268 and building a big lead. At this point, however, they would do well to get within sight of the hosts’ first-innings total.
NZ 268 (1st innings) – Henry Nicholls 118, BJ Watling 34, JP Duminy 4-47, Keshav Maharaj 2-47
SA 104-6 (1st innings) – Faf du Plessis 22, Hashim Amla 21, Colin de Grandhomme 3-22, Tim Southee 2-32
South Africa trail by 164 runs
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