Here are the top five turning points during the Proteas’ 1-0 series victory against New Zealand.
Rain saves the Proteas
The weather was a major game-changer in the first and third Test. On both occasions, day five was washed out, disrupting a mouthwatering finish to what were tight battles. In the first Test, the Proteas got themselves ahead by 191, with Faf du Plessis in fine form on 56 and SA on 224-6 at stumps on day four.
In the third Test, the Proteas were in trouble at 80-5 by the end of day four, with a deficit of 95. Rain washed out the final day as South Africa were handed a lifeline draw to help them win the series 1-0. The series victory pushed them to No 2 on the ICC Test rankings, two points clear of Australia.
Dean Elgar’s anchoring role
Elgar was the glue which kept the Proteas innings’ together in the first Test in Dunedin. He hit 140 in the first innings and 89 in the second, as the Proteas saw out a draw. The last time a ton was scored by an overseas opener in the first innings against NZ in a series was in 2005, when Marvan Atapattu made 127 in Napier. His 299 balls to get to the century was also the most balls faced by a foreigner in New Zealand.
Spin played a lethal role
In the Proteas’ second Test victory in Wellington, JP Duminy and Keshav Maharaj both turned the match in SA’s favour by dismissing both of New Zealand’s dangermen. Duminy picked up career-best figures of 4-47, which included the scalp of the star of the Kiwis’ first innings, Henry Nicholls (118), as they were reduced to 268.
Maharaj dismissed Jeet Ravel (80) and took 6-40 in NZ’s second innings, to help SA claim an eight-wicket victory. Not only was this career-best Test figures, it was also his second five-for after his 5-94 in the first Test. This made him the first spinner to take five-wicket hauls in consecutive matches in New Zealand since Pakistani Intikhab Alam in 1973.
Match-turning 160-run partnership
Half-centuries by Temba Bavuma (89) and Quinton de Kock (91) saved the Proteas after a top-six collapse in their first innings in the second Test. New Zealand posted 268 in their first innings, and the Proteas responded poorly to find themselves on 94-6. Bavuma and De Kock dug deep to help SA post 359 in their first innings to cover up SA’s humiliating opening batting display.
Morne Morkel set the tone
Morkel (3-50) took three early wickets, which included the important scalp of Kane Williamson, as the Black Caps tumbled to 64-3 in their second innings of the second Test. His performance was instrumental in the Proteas’ eight-wicket victory at the Basin Reserve, as he set the tone for a destructive spell by Maharaj.
He also toppled New Zealand’s top three in the draw at Hamilton, putting an end to Tom Latham (50), Raval (88) and Williamson (176) as he reached the 250-wicket milestone.
Photo: Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images
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