Pace trio leave New Zealand on backfoot

prv_30860_1472467043Two reviews were taken by South Africa and two decisions overturned in their favour as New Zealand, despite Kane Williamson’s determined graft, were reduced to 118 for 6 at Lunch on Day 3 of the second Test at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Monday (August 29).

Resuming the day from their overnight score of 38 for 3, Williamson and Henry Nicholls got off to an audacious start. Dale Steyn kept peppering short-pitched deliveries, while Vernon Philander bowled a tight line, getting the ball to shape back in and out of the batsman. Nonetheless, the New Zealand duo didn’t hold back on playing with the horizontal bat, despite a three-man slip cordon in place throughout the session.

After a sedate start, a 11-ball period in which no run was scored, Nicholls took on Steyn in third over of the morning. The second delivery was short and wide, the left-hander went for a slash, but ended up getting an outside edge which flew over the slip cordon for a boundary. Faf du Plessis, stationed at second slip, managed to get a hand to it, but failed to pouch it.

Steyn sent down a similar delivery next up. Nicholls got on top of the ball and slashed it past the backward point region for a second consecutive boundary. Two balls later, a similar story unfolds – wide and short, slashed, edged, and raced towards the boundary from over the slip cordon.

While Steyn continued with his tactic, Williamson took to a more cautious approach against the veteran pacer. Nicholls continued poking at Steyn’s delivery outside the off-stump, but managed to survive the first hour of play.

Meanwhile, Quinton de Kock, not the tallest of wicketkeepers, seemed to have warmed himself up well before the start of the day as he was top-class in jumping and collecting the balls shooting over his head. He did end up conceding eight runs as byes, but would be too harsh to have those runs credited against his name.

The introduction of Kagiso Rabada added some zing to the attack. The 21-year old pacer started his spell clocking over 145kmph and had both the batsmen playing him off the backfoot.

Nonetheless, New Zealand saw through the first hour of the day without losing a wicket. In the process, the duo also brought up their half-century stand by clipping Rabada’s full length delivery through the leg side for a boundary. However, the second half of the session wasn’t as successful for the tourists.

In the second over after drinks, Rabada had started clocking over 150kmph and had Nicholls in all sorts of trouble. The fifth ball of the over straightened after pitching on the middle stump, trapping the left-hander in front of the wicket. South Africa decided to take a review after Paul Reiffell, the on-field umpire, had declared him not out. As replays suggested, there was nothing to save the batsman.

BJ Watling looked to consolidate New Zealand’s innings in the company of Williamson, but couldn’t keep the South African charge at bay. He gloved a Steyn bouncer on the leg side to the wicketkeeper. This time it was Ian Gould who gave the batsman not out, before South Africa went for their second successful review.

Philander joined the party soon after by nipping the ball in to induce an inside edge off Mitchell Santner’s bat and divert it to the stumps. The all-rounder departed without troubling the scorers.

Even as wickets kept crumbling in the second hour of the play, Williamson kept a solid vigil from the other end to remain unbeaten on 40 at Lunch, in company of Doug Bracewell.

Brief scores: South Africa 481 for 6 (Faf du Plessis 112*, JP Duminy 88, Quinton de Kock 82, Hashim Amla 58, Stephen Cook 56; Neil Wagner 5-86) lead New Zealand 118 for 6 (Kane Williamson 40*; Vernon Philander 2-29, Dale Steyn 2-42) by 363 runs.

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