Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, expressed his disappointment with the batting unit after the team lost the second Test against South Africa by eight wickets on Saturday (March 18) in Wellington.
South Africa recovered from 94 for 6 in their first innings to put up 359 all out for a first-innings lead of 91, and Keshav Maharaj then spun the home team out for just 171 with 6 for 40. Set a target of 81, Hashim Amla’s unbeaten 38 led the way as South Africa made 83 for 2 to finish the match in three days.
Spin had accounted for six wickets in New Zealand’s first innings too, with JP Duminy taking 4 for 47 and Maharaj having 2 for 47.
“I didn’t think it was spinning a huge amount,” said Williamson of the Basin Reserve pitch. “On a surface I thought was far more suited to the seam bowlers, to lose that many wickets to spin, in that first innings in particular when the ball wasn’t spinning, is disappointing and something we need to address.
“We spent a bit of time in India where it went square and showed a lot better application than we have in this match. We do need to play it a hell of a lot better.”
Williamson also disagreed with the notion that a packed schedule had led to New Zealand’s below-par showing. “I wouldn’t say that. It’s hard for me to judge by that, you’re in the moment and giving it everything,” offered Williamson. “Today was very disappointing. We’re trying to look at it as a bad day although it was a huge turn in the match.
“Coming into the first day and a half of this test, and losing the toss on a wicket that was offering a little bit, the guys were fighting hard and sticking with it. But the challenge is to do it for a long period of time, particularly when playing one of the top teams in the world. If you don’t they’ll pounce on the opportunity and they did.”
Faf du Plessis, the South African captain, credited his bowlers for the amazing turnaround and eventual win.
“I thought both spinners this Test match bowled incredibly well. Their consistency in their areas, the New Zealand batsmen couldn’t get way,” said du Plessis.
The captain also paid tribute to his team’s character in coming through tough situations. “It was a challenge for us,” he said. “What we asked for this morning was real hard cricket. Mentally we needed to be very strong, to be ready to be challenged and pushed to extremes because it’s not conditions we are used to. There were no excuses; the wind, the cold were never going to be an excuse. Just real, hard Test cricket and that’s what they produced.
“We’ve somehow found this ability to have a lot of faith in our batting line up or whatever, for guys in the team to stand up when there’s a pressure situation.”
Maharaj meanwhile, said the credit for his Man of the Match performance went to the entire bowling unit, including the pace trio of Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada. “The seamers helped me out a lot, they made it difficult to score,” he said. “Vernon and Morne upfront with the new ball were the best that we know them to be. I put the ball in the right area and managed to get a few scalps here and there.”
The third and final Test will be played in Hamilton, and Maharaj said he just wanted to keep bowling in consistent areas. “To be honest, if it’s a wicket that is turning or not I just want to land the ball in my areas,” he said. “Whatever happens from there I can’t control. It will be nice to play on a turner, but whatever is prepared I just want to bowl.”