New Zealand v South Africa, 2nd Test, Wellington, 3rd day March 18, 2017

Maharaj's career best gives South Africa 1-0 lead


South Africa 83 for 2 (Amla 38*) and 359 (de Kock 91, Bavuma 89, de Grandhomme 3-52) beat New Zealand 268 and 171 (Raval 80, Maharaj 6-40) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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WATCH - Highlights of the third day's play in Wellington

South Africa were spun to a three-day victory by Keshav Maharaj's career-best 6 for 40, the second-best figures for a spinner at the Basin Reserve, a ground not famed for the role of the slower bowlers, as New Zealand collapsed after tea for 171. That left South Africa with a simple target of 81, which was knocked off in the extra half hour. New Zealand's top order again struggled, slipping to 90 for 5, then the last five wickets were whisked away for 16 runs in 36 deliveries.

Once South Africa built a first-innings advantage of 91, it was always going to be difficult for New Zealand to take anything from the match - they had only twice overhauled bigger deficits - but the manner of their demise was out of character for a side that prides itself on resilience. While losing the top three to Morne Morkel's pace and bounce was understandable, to let the opposition left-arm spinner take six - with many handed to him on a plate - marks this down as one of New Zealand's poorest batting performances in recent times, even with the qualifier of Ross Taylor's absence.

Morkel claimed two in his opening spell, including Kane Williamson for his second failure of the match, before Maharaj started to make his mark. During a 14-over stint in the afternoon, he removed Henry Nicholls and James Neesham in the space of five deliveries with New Zealand still a run behind.

Jeet Raval, who made a gusty career-best 80, stopped the bleeding alongside Wellington recovery specialist BJ Watling until tea but there was to be no miracle this time. Raval had been given three lives when he was finally stumped by Quinton de Kock - who a short while earlier missed a similar chance - which sparked the cave-in of the lower order. While some of New Zealand's batting was soft, Maharaj's bowling was beautifully controlled - as his economy rate under two would attest - and he was able to feed off the pressure created by the quicks.

Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada, even though they claimed just one wicket between them, provided a clinical examination of the batsmen's techniques: Philander with seam movement and Rabada with pace - he particularly roughed up Raval, pounding him on the gloves, in a passage of play the opener gained much kudos for surviving.

Jeet Raval battled through the majority of the day with a career-best 80 © Getty Images

After the brief skirmishes at the start of the day, when Morkel equalled his highest Test score, the contest went up a level as South Africa's quicks armed themselves with the new ball. Morkel immediately caused discomfort and Tom Latham's torment did not last long, when he sparred at a length ball and offered a simple catch to gully.

It meant Williamson was again exposed with the ball still very new and his stay was brief when Morkel made one straighten from off stump to graze the outside edge. Kumar Dharmasena did not detect the very thin nick, but this time du Plessis' call for DRS - which was almost instant - was spot on and they had kept Williamson to a return of just three runs in the Test.

Broom did not have to stew too long on the prospect of a debut pair when he tapped the ball into point for a single. He was then given a thorough working over by an exemplary spell from Philander who probed and beat his outside edge with waspish movement. A couple of deliveries were like 130kph legbreaks and survival was the only option. That he achieved, but he couldn't carry on far beyond the interval. In Morkel's first over after the break, he edged behind where, in a replay of the first innings, de Kock took a flying catch in front of first slip. This time, though, the catch would have reached Hashim Amla, and it took a few moments for team-mates to realise de Kock had grasped it.

Then followed a crazy over of batting against Maharaj - it would not be the first - who had already been donated a few wickets in this series. Firstly Nicholls, who needed treatment for a blow on the hand, under-edged a sweep against a wide delivery into his stumps and then five balls later, Neesham came down the pitch, flicked in the air and the ball was plucked out at midwicket by du Plessis' latest blinding catch.

For close to two hours, Raval and Watling warmed the hearts of the Wellington crowd on a cold day, but there was always the knowledge South Africa had wicket-taking options at hand. Just that Maharaj would not have been top of the list at the start of the series. He tossed a delivery wide to Raval, drew him out of the crease, and this time de Kock - who yesterday spoke about the battering his hands had taken on the tour - completed a swift piece of work.

In his next over, Maharaj produced a delivery he'll want to frame for the rest of his career, the ball pitching on middle and spinning past Colin de Grandhomme's outside edge to hit off stump. The rest was inevitable: Tim Southee slogged to long-off, Jeetan Patel fell to a Kagiso Rabada short ball and the helpless Watling heaved into the deep.

South Africa's chase was without much difficulty although Stephen Cook completed two lean Tests when he edged to the slips. Dean Elgar top-edged a swipe against Neil Wagner moments before the extra half hour was taken, leaving Amla and JP Duminy to complete the formalities. This outcome will leave New Zealand in a quandary. They did not want green seamers for this series, for fear of aiding South Africa's quicks, but the prospect of a turner in Hamilton could play into the hands of a man having the time of his life.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lindsay on March 20, 2017, 12:28 GMT

    @VALLEMJ, because there are better players waiting for an opportunity. We are taking a huge risk if we keep these 2 guys against Eng. Cook looks out of his depth at test level. Duminy is a proven failure for 9 years now.

  • Jed on March 20, 2017, 7:42 GMT

    Cook scored a century 5 tests ago and Duminy 3 tests ago. Why drop them if we winning?

  • grant on March 19, 2017, 20:47 GMT

    Harmer should never be near a protea team. There is club cricketers bowling better than hom. Guys who actually turn the ball.

  • Bertus on March 19, 2017, 18:32 GMT

    Hey Flat Track. Times have changed since those guys you mentioned hung up their bats. Not only were runs harder to come by in the nineties and early 2000s, but there also weren't much better players waiting in the wings. If we want to celebrate mediocrity, fine then! If not, I say it's time to move on from JP as a test player and thank you for the memories. I think the time is right to bring both Markram and de Bruyn into the team. If you want to select an off spinner who can bat a bit, rather go for Piedt or Harmer.

  • Bazza on March 19, 2017, 18:03 GMT

    Flat track no baller... Youre not really comparing Hansie and Jonty with JP?? OMW worlds apart in class!!

  • ciscod1757962 on March 19, 2017, 13:06 GMT

    I see SA has a long history of keeping faith in batsmen who dont really have a "spectacular" record. Jonty rhodes made 3 centuries in 52 tests, hansie cronje 6 in 68, boeta dipenaar 3 in 30, jaque rudolph 6 in 48 and now everybody's favourite JP has 6 in 44. None of these cats averaged 37. So I reckon he has about 22 tests left before he can get dropped.

  • thabzn1247572 on March 19, 2017, 12:55 GMT

    Herath going to shut up now, his weak ailing and still transforming team lost at home to Bangladesh, I guess it's not just West Indies that are dwindling in international cricket

  • rodzch2920287 on March 19, 2017, 11:14 GMT

    @aussieNSW You seem to forget Adelaide was SA's first pink ball test after a momentous series victory.

  • Vinoth Kumar on March 19, 2017, 11:12 GMT

    @HERATH-UK,You mean SA beat weaker NZ team?. Kindy check the records, even in previous tours SA beat NZ(Mccullum,Guptill etc) all were played. Also Guptill was dropped becoz of his poor form. SA also without steyn & ABD in this series. Bangladesh beat your team in your home, now you are joking that SL will beat this NZ in NZ. SL lost test series in home agst SA,PAK,IND. As a SC team, first you win one test match in Ind or UAE then you can think about draw outside asia. Kindly, dont put your baseless comments before know the stats.Losing test match in home agst Bangladesh bit worst. Please publish cricinfo.

  • goteem8846388 on March 19, 2017, 9:42 GMT

    Nah, not engaging in trash-talk banter with the Ozzie isn't good advice... Even fans such as I who rarely engage in active posting on Saffa cricket's trials and tribulations of nowadays, am motivated to counter that single pesky comment from the oldie from Old-New South Whales... What business do they have commenting here... other than triggered envy? And the Adelaide schooling..? Why, they've been fortunate that matters preceding the test that conspired against Faf & co's ideal performance delivery, as well as the flippant way Faf himself dealt with the match, what with the inane 1st innings declaration, are all now conveniently forgotten and mistaken for the Aussie performance improvement hullabaloo! Besides, no 1 test batsman, who? That individual's performance during the said series: one measly ½ century, a couple of 40's and 30's PLUS one big... round... Zero...! That itself shows that his subsequent scores resulted from a marked absence of facing off against top competition!

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