Proteas build their lead towards 400


THE Standard Bank Proteas and New Zealand lost 13 wickets between them while 281 runs were scored to make day three a big moving day in the second Sunfoil Test match at SuperSport Park on Monday. The Proteas finished the day on 105/6 in 34 overs for an overall lead of 372 runs which means that stand-in captain Faf du Plessis is unlikely to have to make a declaration. In spite of New Zealand dominating this final session of the day the Proteas still hold a very strong position as a target in excess of 400 runs with the best part of two days to be played is going to require an almighty batting effort.
The bowlers are now enjoying the perfect cocktail mix of a pitch that has increased in pace, and has increasingly variable bounce while there is also prodigious swing available and the conditions are only going to get more difficult as the game progresses. In the circumstances one had to admire the innings of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson who has a technique and temperament that reminds one of the great Jacques Kallis. His defence was extremely tight as he kept his eyes right over the ball, he played every delivery on its merit without getting confused by the behaviour of the ball and showed that he has just about every stroke in his attacking armoury.
He only got out when he ran out of partners, having made 77 off 133 balls with 8 fours and a six. He is certainly poised to become statistically at least his country’s greatest batsman. He and Henry Nicholls produced the only 50 plus partnership of the innings as Dale Steyn (he has now passed the 50 mark at this venue), Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada took 8 wickets between them to brush aside the rest of the New Zealand batting. Quinton de Kock set a record for South African Test matches against New Zealand by claiming five catches in the innings and followed that by becoming the first South African wicketkeeper to open the batting and score half-centuries in both innings. His second innings 50 (43 balls, 8 fours and a six) was in total contrast to the struggle of most of his colleagues. He started by taking 17 runs with 4 boundaries off the first over he faced from Trent Boult and 10 from the next (a six and a four) from Tim Southee that included a ramp shot over the third man boundary. He gave full vent to his incredible gifts of timing before he fell to a delivery from Doug Bracewell that bordered on the unplayable. The only other batsman to reach double figures was Temba Bavuma who finished unbeaten on 25 (69 balls, 4 fours). The Little Master will play many bigger innings for South Africa but this was certainly as impressive as a low score can get. His footwork was impeccable in very difficult conditions as was his temperament and this was, in fact, an important movement forward in his career. The New Zealand seamers shared the 6 wickets to fall as they concentrated in banging the ball in hard to capitalise on the nature of the pitch. Only 21 overs of spin have now been bowled in the match with the result that 13 overs were left unbowled today. New Zealand are now going to have to bat extremely well to take this game into day five. Their deficit of the first two days has still left them with a mountain to climb in spite of a spirited and determined fightback on day three.