Mesmerised New Zealand march into Philander buzz saw

2013-01-02 13:33

New Zealand 45 (Williamson 13, Philander 5/7, Morkel 3/14, Steyn 2/18) South Africa 3/1 (Bracewell 1/ 2)

New Zealand lead by 42 runs

South Africa lost Graeme Smith early in their chase of New Zealand’s weak first innings score, but the true nature of the wicket can only be judged when both teams have batted on it.

New Zealand failed dismally, but how the Proteas fare after lunch will determine the length of this Test match

Vernon Philander played havoc with the already weakened New Zealand batting line-up. He took the fourth-fastest five-wicket haul in Test history. It spearheaded another sub-50 total, which will make Australia smile as they were the previous holders of the lowest Test total against South Africa.

This test should have been about Dale Steyn’s march to his 300th test wicket in only his 61st match, joining the esteemed company of Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald. Donald also had the distinction of taking his milestone wicket against New Zealand, his prize being Shayne O’Connor.

Doug Bracewell was Steyn’s, but his glory was overshadowed by the rampant Philander.

100 minutes is what most Test-class batsmen should stick around for but when serial offstump flirter Martin Guptill feathered one to AB de Villiers it catalysed Philander’s kiwi festival. It also soon became clear the visitors were in no mood to put up a fight.

Brendon McCullum soon followed, castled by an inducker that snaked through his bat-pad gap. Dean Brownlie was out to the ball of the day, nicking a ball to first slip that shaped in and moved away, short of a length.

Kane Williamson, the only New Zealander to get to double figures, unfurled the shot of the morning, a glorious cover drive off Philander, but it was short-lived as he was back in the shed two balls later, trapped in front and wasting a review in an act of futile desperation.

BJ Watling followed him shortly thereafter with a regulation caught behind nick.

James Franklin’s dismissal, off a loose attempted drive of a wide Morne Morkel half-volley, signified New Zealand’s complete capitulation.

There was still time for a great catch by Hashim Amla, who took a scorcher at short extra cover off a full-blooded drive from Jeetan Patel.

The tail folded predictably, with Trent Boult and Daniel Flynn falling in quick succession.

Now New Zealand has it all to do, but they are displaying no signs that they want to.

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