Gritty batting keeps SA in ascendancy

2013-01-03 14:17

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New Zealand 45 (Williamson 13, Philander 5/7) South Africa 335/6 (Petersen 106, Amla 66, Kallis 63, Boult 3/78, Franklin 1/50)

South Africa lead by 290 runs.

While a fight-back looked on the cards under grey skies on the second morning of the Test today, a tenacious 50 by AB de Villiers and a steady contribution from Dean Elgar increased South Africa’s lead.

New Zealand did well to pin the Proteas back, taking three wickets at the cost of only 83 runs.

When the South African batsmen strode out after heavy overnight showers, they must have thought Newlands had turned itself into an incarnation of Headingley or Lord’s, such was the menace of the wintry skyline.

Offering a bit of swing and movement off the seam, Trent Boult, New Zealand’s best bowler on the first day, made sure Alviro Petersen’s progress was stalled, castling him with a beauty that pitched on offstump and hit the top of middle stump, snaking through Petersen’s rather big gap between bat and pad.

It was a weird end to what was a technically peerless innings from a batsman who hardly strays from what works and what does not work for him.

His patient innings buttressed the South African reply, while the cavalier elements around him rammed home the advantage set up by the bowlers yesterday.

At the other end, there was also an innings of self-denial from AB de Villiers as the New Zealand bowlers sought to pull things back after the first day gallop.

There were signature straight drives, two off Chris Martin as the lanky paceman just could not get his frame down in time to cut off the ball.

He reached his 30th Test 50 off a sedate 87 balls but the willingness to play within himself even though the team was in a strong position was an indication of selflessness.

It was required, though, as the Adelaide hero, Faf du Plessis, in his first home Test, found the comforts of 255/4 too uninspiring. There were neat dabs off the hips but an uncertain prod off a rising Martin delivery found Kane Williamson at gully.

It brought a jittery Elgar to the crease and his first Test run after a pair on debut in Perth brought resounding cheers.

He was not convincing in his scratchy 21 and a good ball from Boult just before lunch got rid of him, as he feathered behind to BJ Watling.

It was a good session for New Zealand but it probably came too late.

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