Vernon Philander led South Africa to a resounding victory with extraordinary bowling performances in both innings of the match.
Philander, who has been in the spotlight for his outstanding wicket-taking ability, continued his good run of form with the ball and continually asked questions of the New Zealand batsmen throughout the match.
He was given the Man of the Match honours for the 10 wickets he took in the entire match, and said: “It’s coming out well, nothing to complaining about. There was a bit of nip and as the ball got older I got a bit of reverse. We are also catching well at the moment, hopefully we’ll do it in Wellington as well.”
South African Captain, Graeme Smith, won the toss and chose to bowl, due to the wicket having more in it for the bowlers than the batsmen.
New Zealand openers, Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill, were looking to make Smith rethink his decision about wanting to bowl first, but, it was Smith and South Africa, who gained the upper hand early in the match, with the wickets of both openers.
Brendon McCullum and Captain Ross Taylor, sensing New Zealand was in trouble, took their time to get themselves settled at the crease, and played some good shots to create a solid partnership.
McCullum, however, was dealt a bit of a blow before lunch on the first day, when he was hit on the second finger and sustained some serious bruising.
But, he was able to continue batting, and together with Taylor, they continued to build on the partnership they had started, much to the frustration of Smith, who was looking for quick wickets.
Before Smith knew it, the partnership had gone past the half century mark, and soon McCullum, was celebrating his own half century, which was thoroughly deserved.
But, just as the partnership was nearing the century mark, and Taylor closing in on his own half century, Dale Steyn, removed McCullum with a brute of a ball, leaving him looking stunned, as he walked back to the pavilion, after his gutsy innings.
Taylor, seemed to be distracted with the removal of McCullum, and a couple of deliveries later, lost his own wicket, falling just six runs shy of his half century.
With South Africa removing the two settled batsmen, New Zealand just seemed to buckle under the intense South African bowling. Steyn and Philander, just tore through the middle order, who, amazingly, added no runs to the scorecard.
Wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and Mark Gillespie put up a small fight, as they put together a 43 run partnership, before the South Africans bowled them all out for a dismal 185 runs.
Vernon Philander had four wickets, and was well backed up by Dale steyn, with three, Imran Tahir, who took two and Morne Morkel, who chipped in with one.
Before the close of the first day, South Africa were dealt a major blow, with the loss of Captain Graeme Smith, who got a thin inside edge, which van Wyk caught brilliantly.
Just to make matters worse, Dale Steyn, who was promoted to the top, to be the night watchman, fell just towards the end of the day.
Hashim Amla and Alviro Petersen opened the second day with a solid 45 run partnership, before Amla was caught out, much to the dismay of the South African fans, who were expecting more out of him.
Just as things looked it couldn’t get worse, South Africa’s middle order folded, which gave New Zealand a chance to get themselves back into the match.
But, AB de Villiers and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, put a stop to the collapse of the South African batting lineup, with a sensible 63 run partnership, before Boucher was dismissed, but, the most important thing was that their partnership, had steadily steered South Africa towards a lead.
De Villiers and Philander were involved in a 34 run partnership, before Philander was dismissed.
De Villiers, was yet again involved in another valuable partnership of 34 runs with Morne Morkel, before he tried to take matters into his own hands, and ended up getting bowled on 83.
Morkel, was not going to let South Africa go down without a fight, as he pulled everything he had out of his batting arsenal and put together a partnership worth another 34 runs with Imran Tahir, before Tahir was out after making 16 runs, leaving Morkel, who had added 35 crucial runs to the score, unbeaten on the other end.
Mark Gillespie was all over the South African batsmen, removing half their lineup with his five wickets, while Chris Martin took two and Doug Bracewell, Daniel Vettori and Kane Williamson, all chipped in with one wicket each.
With a lead of 68 runs under their belts, South Africa immediately set to work removing the New Zealand batsmen as early as possible, to ensure that they wouldn’t be able to build much of a target for them to chase.
Openers Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill, along with Brendon McCullum were back in the pavilion very early into the New Zealand second innings, thanks to Philander and Steyn.
With New Zealand having only seven runs on the board with the loss of three wickets, New Zealand needed a spark of hope from their middle order batsmen.
Captain Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, provided the spark New Zealand needed and together the pair repaired the early strikes they were dealt by Philander and Steyn.
Before long Taylor and Williamson had pushed their partnership past the half century mark, but it was not to go on much further, as Taylor, who was kept under constant pressure, finally tried to attack and fell victim to Steyn, thus ending the partnership, which looked to be threatening, at 57.
Williamson, meanwhile, refused to give in to the South Africans and continued on with his innings, even though he was constantly losing partners.
Williamson and Kruger van Wyk worked together to give New Zealand a boost and the pair were looking promising, before Philander was brought back and removed van Wyk with a beaut of a delivery.
Williamson, knowing that his list of partners was wearing thin, tried to go on the offensive, but, yet again, Philander produced a brilliant delivery to get rid of him. Williamson’s 77 runs, had given the New Zealand innings some life.
But, after Williamson, who was the biggest threat by far, was gone, Philander wrapped up his bowling spell with another two wickets, leaving South Africa, just 101 runs for victory.
Philander once again dominated the bowling for the South Africans, taking an unbelievable six wickets in the second innings. Dale Steyn, picked up two wickets, while Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis got one wicket each.
Philander, who has represented South Africa in six test matches, including this one, already has 45 test wickets to his name, at an astounding average of 13.60.
South Africa were dealt an early blow in their chase of 101, with opener Alviro Petersen, falling early.
However, after that, Captain Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla worked in tandem as they pushed South Africa ever closer to their target.
Smith and Amla’s partnership soon passed the fifty run mark and they were totally in control from that moment on.
The New Zealand bowling just had no answer to the extraordinary batting of the pair.
With their excellent running between the wickets, Amla and Smith, comfortably led South Africa to victory with their 98 run partnership. Smith was unbeaten on a rather quick 55, while Amla remained undefeated on 46.
Doug Bracewell took the lone wicket of the South African’s second innings, while the rest of the bowlers were just hit all round the ground.
New Zealand Captain, Ross Taylor, was less than impressed with the performance of his team, and noted that they needed to improve before the next test match. “They outplayed us, Philander and Steyn put pressure on our batsmen. It was a pretty flat wicket as well, they bowled in the right areas. We were okay with the ball, they were 6 for 90-odd. We need to pick ourselves from this. Similar bounce to Dunedin but we didn’t bowl in the right areas long enough to put them under pressure, and we didn’t bat long enough” he said.
Captain Smith, on the other hand, was extremely pleased with the all round energy of his team, and praised the them for their hard work. “We had to work for this win, our bowlers did a terrific job. It was a big squeeky in our change room at 88 for 6, that period after tea on day 2 was crucial and it set the tone. AB’s innings was a crucial knock, marshalled the innings very well. We try to make sure Kallis’ spells are crucial and planned, and he got Vettori with that short one. The track was a little two-paced maybe, but on these surfaces you need to graft” he said.
With this test match victory, South Africa, who are now 1-0 up, will be looking to sweep the series 2-0 when the final test is played at Wellington on the 23rd of March.