The first Test between New Zealand and the Proteas has ended in a draw, after rain wiped out the final day in Dunedin.
It spoiled what had all the makings of a classic, attritional Test, as the batsmen were made to work hard for their runs on what was a low-scoring affair.
We all expected rain throughout the fifth and final day, with forecasts reading an 80% chance of it happening at the University Oval, but at least some play was predicted as the Proteas aimed to set up a challenging fourth-innings total.
Dean Elgar was in a class of his own throughout the four days, breaking a South African record for the most balls faced in a Test in New Zealand and coming agonisingly close to scoring twin tons in a Test for the Proteas for the first time in over six years.
His career-best 140 in the first innings saw the visitors to 308 all out, before his 89 helped the side to 224-6 in the second innings in trying circumstances. Faf du Plessis, on 56, would have been hopeful of adding another 60-70 runs to an already handy 191-run lead.
With Ross Taylor battling through a torn calf injury which will rule him out of the rest series, and on a pitch that was becoming increasingly trickier to play on, perhaps this was the weather the Black Caps were hoping for on Sunday.
The Kiwis broke into a 33-run lead in the first innings through an exquisite 130 by their skipper Kane Williamson, as a maiden five-wicket haul from Keshav Maharaj (5-94) saw them bowled for 341. They were made to rue dropped catches and poor use of the Decision Review System as they allowed the South Africans to compile a substantial lead.
Considering that the New Zealanders haven’t won a Test against their opposition since 2004, there were plenty of good signs, and they will feel confident of competing against the Proteas in the next two Tests. Jeetan Patel’s finger-spin was a constant threat, while Affies old boy Neil Wagner’s tireless effort, unrelenting pace and bounce will be sure to cause the top-order some problems as the series goes on.
The second Test gets under way in Wellington on Thursday.
Photo: Dianne Manson/Getty Images