Keshav Maharaj’s career-best figures of 6 for 40 headlined South Africa’s eight-wicket win over New Zealand on the third day of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Saturday (March 18).
Chasing 81 after New Zealand had crumbled to 171 all out in their second innings, South Africa were 48 for 2 in 19 overs when Hashim Amla and JP Duminy requested for an extra half an hour to finish the game. They hit six fours after that to wrap up the game in 24.3 overs as South Africa took a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, after the weather-affected first encounter had ended in a draw.
South Africa lost Stephen Cook in the fifth over of the chase when Tim Southee had him caught at second slip for 11. Then, Dean Elgar and Amla added 30 runs before Neil Wagner had the former caught behind for 17.
That was to be New Zealand’s last success in the match as Amla (38 not out) and Duminy (15 not out) had an unbroken stand of 35 runs in 6.4 overs. Duminy hit the winning boundary, pulling Jimmy Neesham to the square-leg fence.
Jeet Raval, with his Test best 80, offered some resistance with support from BJ Watling, who made 29 in New Zealand’s innings. But wickets tumbled too regularly as much through dubious shot selection as through quality bowling.
New Zealand had said before the Test they did not particularly want a green wicket given the high quality of the South African pace attack. But it was the South African spinners who did serious damage, claiming six wickets in each innings.
Maharaj, the left-arm spinner who took eight in the match, finished with his second five-wicket haul in his fledgling six-Test career.
Morne Morkel started New Zealand’s second-innings collapse when he cleaned out the top order, including the valuable wicket of Kane Williamson for one, to finish with 3 for 50.
After South Africa resumed the day at 349 for 9, Morkel and Vernon Philander added a further 10 runs to stretch South Africa’s first-innings lead to 91.
Morkel followed up by rapidly removing Tom Latham, Williamson and Neil Broom to have New Zealand at 64 for 3, still 27 behind and with only seven wickets left.
After Williamson fell cheaply, New Zealand needed the remaining batsmen to step up but instead Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls and Neesham could only add 31 in total before Watling joined Raval.
Broom, the debutant who made a duck in his first innings, did not add to his lunchtime 20 when he edged Morkel to Quinton de Kock, the wicketkeeper, at the start of the middle session in which New Zealand lost three wickets. Maharaj had Nicholls playing on for seven and in the same over Neesham was smartly caught one-handed by a leaping Faf du Plessis for four as New Zealand were 90 for 5.
On 53, Raval was dropped by Duminy at gully and on 67 he charged down the wicket to Duminy and missed the ball, but so too did de Kock when a stumping was on the cards. De Kock made amends the next time Raval danced down the wicket and completed the stumping for Maharaj’s third wicket and the opener was gone for 80.
It signalled the end for New Zealand with the last five wickets falling for 16 runs.
The third Test, which New Zealand need to win to avoid their second consecutive series loss against South Africa at home, begins in Hamilton from March 25. South Africa had last come to New Zealand in March 2012 when they had prevailed 1-0 in the three-Test series.