The Proteas appear to be on the cusp of a famous series-level win against the Black Caps, after the game closed on Monday’s fourth day at Hagley Oval with the hosts taking an improbable 332 runs to win on the final. day with six wickets in hand.
So most South Africans should wake up on Tuesday morning to a resounding Proteas win, which is a complete reversal from their dismal first Test shown on the same ground a week earlier. Rain may be the only factor standing in the way of South Africa’s victory.
Here are three key points in the Proteas’ reversal of form that should ensure they keep their famous record intact, which is that they have never lost a Test series against New Zealand.
Top and middle order finally get it right
The top and middle order of the Proteas have been much reviled of late and have struggled to post scores over 300, usually settling for scores in the low 200s or 250s at best. That all came to a head in the first Test, where they were brutally exposed and knocked over for a combined 206 in both innings after crashing to 95 all-out in the first and 111 all-out in the second.
A vastly improved effort was needed in the second Test and it showed with the Proteas scoring more than 350 in both innings.
Sarel Erwee was the star of the first innings, scoring a first Test hundred in just his second game, with top and mid-range contributions from Aiden Markram, 42, Dean Elgar, 41, Rassie van der Dussen, 35, and Temba Bavuma, 29 , all helped keep the scoreboard ticking.
Top order then failed in the second innings, leading to middle order moving up when Kyle Verreynne scored a first unbeaten Test century, while Van Der Dussen, 45, Wiaan Mulder, 35, and Bavuma, 23, were all around him redeemed.
The tail is wagging
The tail of the Proteas has often played a pivotal role in picking up valuable lower-order runs lately after upper- and middle-order failures, but in this match they were able to get on with the team in a much better position. position than they usually are.
Despite that, they still played their part in picking up some much-needed extra runs, with Marco Jansen, 37no, and Keshav Maharaj, 36, teaming up for an impressive 62-run ninth wicket position in the first innings.
In the second inning, Verreynne led the lower ranking, but Jansen still played a part supporting him with nine out of 41 balls.
Kagiso Rabada then absolutely beat the New Zealand bowling attack by crushing 47 of 34 balls (4×4; 4×6) in an eighth wicket score by 78 runs, while last man Lutho Sipamla, 10no, Verreynne helped them over the 350 run mark as they shared an unbeaten 32-run last wicket tie.
Rabada continues excellent form, spin does the trick
On the bowling front, the Proteas were on point, although they will most likely admit that they were frustrated by letting the Black Caps break from 91/5 and score 293 all-out in their first innings.
However, the bowling of the Proteas has improved a lot since the first test. The key to that was strike bowler Kagiso Rabada’s form, who looks back at his best and has continued his fine form from the Indian series.
He struggled in the first Test with numbers of 2/113 in the hosts’ lone innings, but in the second he took 5/60 in the first innings, supported by Marco Jansen’s 4/98, while taking 2/17. in the second so far, supported by Keshav Maharaj’s 2/32.
Also playing a big part in the Proteas’ performance was their decision to add spin to the equation again after Maharaj missed the first test.
New Zealand struggled with their charge at full speed and while spin wasn’t expected to play a role, Maharaj was the perfect replacement for the Proteas quicks, making a solid 1/46 contribution from 16 overs in the first innings, followed by his second-innings effort.