The Proteas have wrapped up the series in clinical fashion by beating New Zealand by 204 runs in the second Test in Centurion.
It was the complete all-round performance from the Proteas. Records were broken, centuries were scored, old dogs proved doubters wrong and correct decisions were made at key stages. And all this without their skipper AB de Villiers.
Stand-in captain Faf du Plessis opted to declare with his side on 136-7 in the morning session, which gave New Zealand a daunting 400 for victory. It would have been a record-breaking total on South African soil, but on a deteriorating pitch, it was always going to be an almighty task.
It became impossible when Dale Steyn ripped through the top order. No Test matches all year? No problem. He took a five-wicket haul and it also means he’s now just six wickets away from becoming South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-taker.
Tom Latham and Martin Guptill both fell for golden ducks and then he had Ross Taylor for a duck, too, as the pitch got extra bounce to Latham and Guptill, and turned into a pea-roller for Taylor. An almost unfair mission.
Vernon Philander was excellent himself, showing what could have been with Steyn in Durban. He saw off the big fish Kane Williamson for five. Resistance then came in the form of Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling, who shared a 68-run stand, but when Watling fell so too did the rest in pretty quick fashion.
Nicholls was the last man to fall for 76, and with that, the match and the series. The rankings suddenly provides much better reading for the Proteas too, who have jumped up from seventh to fifth.
The Proteas were on the front foot from the word go despite losing the toss. Quinton de Kock, filling in for the injured Dean Elgar at the top of the order, made full use of the opportunity presented to him with a Man of the Match performance. He became the first wicketkeeper for South Africa to score fifties in both innings as an opener.
Du Plessis, who looked shaky at first, went all the way to three figures while JP Duminy produced a timely return to form with 88 as they posted 481-8.
The skipper opted not to enforce the follow on after New Zealand collapsed to 214 all out. It proved a good decision, not just because it gave the bowlers a rest, but batting fourth was always going to be treacherous.
So it proved as the Proteas wobbled to 136-7 declared, but in the end it proved more than enough.
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