Williamson century limits South Africa to 1-0 series victory

South Africa still won the series despite drawing the final test match

Kane Williamson’s gutsy century on the final day of the third test ensured that New Zealand drew the match with South Africa, even after spectacular bowling performances by Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.

South Africa, however, had the last laugh, as they ended up winning the three test series 1-0, which was the most important thing to Captain Graeme Smith.

Smith, at the post match presentations, said: “It’s been a terrific summer, we’ve walked away with three trophies, you can all be proud of your performance.”

The first day of the test match didn’t start too well, as the entire first session was lost due to constant rain, however, after an early lunch, the two Captains, Graeme Smith and Ross Taylor, came out to the middle for the toss.

Ross Taylor, won the toss, and decided to bowl first, due to the damp conditions.

Taylor, was having a team talk, as the two South African openers, Captain Smith and Alviro Petersen, walked to the crease.

It was New Zealand that drew first blood, as Doug Bracewell, got one to slant across the South African Captain, which got a small inside edge that was beautifully taken by New Zealand wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk.

However, Smith challenged the umpire’s call using the referral system, but, it was no good, even though Hotspot did not seem to agree with the decision by the umpire, Smith still had to go based on the fact that he had been given out initially by Aleem Dar.

New Zealand were thrilled to have got the early breakthrough, and continued to apply the pressure to Hashim Amla, who was the new batsman at the crease.

However, Amla and Petersen, started to work extremely well, and together, the pair, kept the runs flowing by hitting into the gaps, and dispatching any loose deliveries to the boundary.

Amla, seemed to be in excellent form, as he continued attacking the bowling, while Petersen, seemed more than happy enough to work the singles, and give Amla strike.

However, Amla, took a nasty blow to the groin region, after getting a thick inside edge, and didn’t look to be as comfortable as he had been towards to the beginning stages of his innings.

Amla, continued to fight on though, as he and Petersen, cruised past the half century mark in their partnership, and were looking stronger and stronger with every shot.

With the runs continuing to flow, the South Africans had made up for the early loss of Graeme Smith, with Amla bringing up his half century.

But, just as the partnership had entered into the nineties, Amla, attempted a pull shot, which ballooned up into the air, and ended up being a simple catch for van Wyk.

Amla’s 63 runs had provided some life in the South African innings, but, the batsman, was soon off to hospital for emergency surgery on his groin region, where he had taken a nasty hit earlier in his innings.

With Amla out for the rest of the test match, all eyes turned back on Petersen and Jean Paul Duminy, who had taken the place of Jacques Kallis, due to a stiff neck.

Much to the surprise of the New Zealand fans, Duminy and Petersen, continued to keep the scoreboard ticking, and they forced the New Zealand bowling attack to get frustrated, making them more susceptible to bowling poorer deliveries, which the two batsman used to make themselves more confident and settled at the crease.

Their partnership soon passed the half century mark, but, if anyone thought the pair were going to slow down, they were seriously mistaken.

Petersen and Duminy soon reached their own half centuries, much to the delight of their teammates in the pavilion.

Once the partnership had passed the century mark, Captain Ross Taylor was starting to get extremely worried, as he knew the South Africans were slowly taking the game away.

The pair just continued to find the gaps and boundaries, as the New Zealand players looked exhausted on the field, and the bowlers too looked as if they had just about enough.

The 150 partnership came up in almost no time, as the New Zealand Captain, continued to look on hopelessly and just hope that the breakthrough would come soon enough.

Petersen and Duminy soon brought up their own centuries, which even the New Zealand fans had to stand and applaud because they knew it had been an excellent innings by both batsmen.

Petersen’s cenutury, was his third in test matches, while, Duminy’s, was only the second of his test career.

Once the partnership had hit right on the double century mark, Ross Taylor, was finally rewarded with the breakthrough, as he took a sharp catch at first slip, to get rid of Duminy, after a brilliant knock of 103.

However, even though Duminy had departed, Petersen, did not let anything stand in his way, as he continued to fight on through his already outstanding innings.

Together, he and AB de Villiers, put together a slow and steady partnership of 56 runs, before Petersen, was out off a delivery that nipped back into him and rapped him on the pads, right in front of the stumps, making the umpire give him out with no hesitation.

Petersen, played an absolutely game-changing innings of 156, which is now his highest score in test matches.

New Zealand, started to feel a little more energised, after the departure of Petersen, and held down the South Africans from adding to many more runs, as they removed most of the middle order in quick succession.

The first to go was AB de Villiers, who was bowled, after getting an inside edge that cannoned into the leg stump.

He was soon followed by Jacques Rudolph, who couldn’t resist playing a delivery outside the line of off stump, and was caught behind by van Wyk.

Dale Steyn, was rather surprised when he got a quick bouncer from Mark Gillespie, which ended up safely in the hands of Martin Guptill, in the slip cordon.

However, New Zealand, were stalled from taking anymore wickets, as South African wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, and pace bowler, Vernon Philander, worked extremely hard to start up another partnership, which started to hurt New Zealand once again.

Boucher and Philander started to do what the top order batsmen had done, work the singles and find the boundaries wherever possible.

The two put together an excellent fifty run partnership, before, Gillespie, made Boucher his fifth wicket of the day, as he cut one straight to the fielder, leaving him four runs short of his half century.

Philander, soon was done in by Gillespie once again, as he tried to clear the ropes, but Daniel Flynn, took the catch, and it was then that Graeme Smith declared an end to the South African first innings.

Mark Gillespie, was all over the South African batting lineup, as he took six wickets, while, Chris Martin picked up two, and Doug Bracewell chipped in with one of his own.

With the South Africans making 474, New Zealand, needed at least 274 to avoid the follow-on.

Opener and debutant Daniel Flynn, along with his opening partner Martin Guptill, got New Zealand off to an excellent start, as they looked to try and win this test match to end the series as a tie.

Flynn and Guptill, took their time to get themselves settled at the crease, as they just worked the ball into the gaps and ran hard.

With the pair slowly bringing up the fifty partnership, Captain Ross Taylor, was hoping that they could use the momentum and confidence they had gained at the crease, to convert it into a bigger contribution.

However, that was not to be the case, as Flynn, just got a small nick on the ball, which Boucher held with no problems whatsoever, leaving Flynn to make the long walk back to the pavilion, after falling just five runs short of his maiden half century.

Guptill, however, did not let the wicket of his opening partner distract him, as he continued to play sensible shots to keep his innings flowing.

Brendon McCullum, who was the new man at the crease, seemed to launch into the South African bowling attack, while Guptill was happy with being more cautious and defensive.

Guptill, soon brought up his own half century, as the Wellington crowd showed their support for the hard knock he had played.

But, when the pair had just brought up their fifty partnership, the South Africans, got the wicket of the danger man, Brendon McCullum, who got a thin nick on the ball, while trying to go for a pull stroke.

New Zealand, were dealt another major blow very quickly, as Martin Guptill, was trapped in front of the stumps when the ball hit his pads, and was given out lbw, bringing an end to his gritty innings of 59.

Things went from bad to worse for New Zealand, when Captain Ross Taylor, was hit just above the wrist from a short pitched delivery by Morne Morkel, which immediately caused him some pain and discomfort.

However, Taylor tried to play through the injury, but, after playing a surprisingly fluent cut shot, he was in absolute agony, and walked back to the pavilion, clutching his arm.

It soon became clear that Taylor had suffered a fracture to his forearm, and would not be available for the rest of the test match.

With their Captain out of action, New Zealand’s Dean Brownlie and Kane Williamson, tried to push New Zealand closer to avoid the follow-on.

The pair, started to find their form, and together kept the runs flowing, which really started to frustrate the South Africans, after they had taken two quick wickets.

They continued to find the gaps, as the partnership continued to build towards the fifty run mark.

Once the partnership had gone past the half century mark, South Africa, struck back with yet another wicket, this time, it was Brownlie, who got a top edge, while attempting to play a pull shot.

From that moment, the lower order batsmen started to fall one by one. Williamson was the first to go, as he was caught behind, after failing to stop himself fishing outside the line of off stump.

Then, Doug Bracewell chopped one onto his stumps, which gave Philander his sixth five wicket haul in seven test matches, but, more importantly, this wicket was his 50th test match wicket, and he had made history by becoming the second fastest bowler to accomplish this feat.

Wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, did not last long either, as he cut a delivery straight to Imran Tahir at deep point, which ended his small innings of seven.

Philander, picked up his sixth wicket, as he removed Mark Gillespie, who was caught at gully, by a great diving effort from AB de Villiers.

Philander, was the star of the South African bowling attack, as he ripped through the New Zealand batsmen, taking six wickets. He was well supported by Dale Steyn who got two wickets, and Marchant de Lange, who picked up one.

With New Zealand all out on 275, they had avoided the follow-on by just one run, meaning that South Africa had to bat again, even though they had a lead of 199 runs.

South Africa, came out with an extremely attacking mindset, as Captain Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen, hammered the New Zealand bowlers all over the ground.

The pair, under the orders of Smith, were told to just add runs to the lead, so that either South Africa could bowl New Zealand out, or that the match would end as a draw.

As the pair passed the half century partnership mark, they started to chance their arm at almost everything. For a while, they got away with most of it, but, soon, Petersen, was out due to an excellent piece of fielding from Doug Bracewell, who ran him out on 39, which also ended the 77 run partnership that he and Smith had put together.

Smith, did not last much longer himself, as he too was dismissed on 41 by some an excellent bit of fielding from Bracewell, but, only this time, he took an absolutely stunning one-handed catch.

With New Zealand getting two quick wickets, the South Africans needed a new spark of life to their innings, and this was delivered by AB de Villiers and Jean Paul Duminy.

The pair, quickly made up for lost time, and went on an absolute rampage, just smashing ball after ball to the boundary, or over the ropes for six, which gave the South African fans in attendance something to cheer about.

The New Zealand bowlers themselves did not know what to do, as they were constantly dispatched all round the ground for runs.

The fifty partnership blew past, and by then, the pair looked unstoppable, as their entertaining hitting continued.

AB de Villiers, brought up his half century in quick fashion, as Duminy, played the role of keeping de Villiers on strike, but, also hitting whatever he could into the stands, or down to the boundary line.

However, just as the entertainment seemed to start, it was finally ended when de Villiers, tried to launch a delivery for six, but, was caught on the long-off boundary.

De Villiers made 68 runs from only 49 balls, with a strike rate of 138.77, which is his highest for a fifty plus score in test matches. The strike rate, is also the second-highest overall for any South African batsman in a test match.

Once de Villiers was out, Captain Smith, declared, leaving Duminy unbeaten on 33 from 23 deliveries, and setting New Zealand a target of 389 runs to win.

Daniel Vettori and Doug Bracewell both took one wicket each, as New Zealand, tried to restrict the damage done by the South African batting lineup.

But, New Zealand’s chase of 389, got off to a horrible start, as opener, Daniel Flynn, got a brute of a bouncer from Morne Morkel, which he just could not get his gloves out the way of, and was easily caught behind by Mark Boucher.

From there, New Zealand, were dealt another major blow, as Brendon McCullum, was hit on the foot by an excellent yorker, and challenged the umpire’s decision when he was given out, but, the replay showed that the ball would have gone on to hit the leg stump, thus bringing an end to McCullum’s short stay at the crease.

Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson added 31 runs to the New Zealand total, before, Morkel struck yet again, this time, removing Guptill with a peach of a delivery, that was nicked straight to Jacques Rudolph at gully.

New Zealand, looking on the verge of another batting collapse, were spared that fate, when Dean Brownlie and Williamson started to build a solid partnership together.

With the pair playing very cautiously, the South African bowlers started to get a bit frustrated, and the loss in concentration, let their tight bowling become a little looser, which Brownlie and Williamson took advantage of to build up their confidence.

Just as the fifty partnership had been brought up, Brownlie, ended up being the fourth wicket of Morkel, when he comprehensively bowled him with an absolutely unplayable yorker.

To make matters worse, the very next delivery, Morkel had his fifth, and it was the big wicket of Vettori as well, who was completely bamboozled by yet another outstanding yorker which landed right in the blockhole.

Morkel, however, was unlucky not to get his hat-trick, but, he had dealt New Zealand two major blows.

With South Africa looking as if they would be crowned the winners of this test match as well, the New Zealand duo of Williamson and Kruger van Wyk, made sure that this was not the case.

The pair, knowing that getting to the target of 389 was not a possibility, set to work just defending ball after ball, to ensure that the match ended as a draw.

No matter what the South Africans threw at them, Williamson and van Wyk, refused to give in.

Williamson, soon made his half century, as he was the only batsman in the entire New Zealand lineup that looked comfortable against the South African bowling attack.

As the fifty partnership was brought up, South African Captain, Graeme Smith, told his team to increase the effort and pressure.

Just as the partnership was looking to be taken to the next level, Morne Morkel, was South Africa’s hero once again, as he caught and bowled van Wyk, to get his sixth wicket.

However, van Wyk and Williamson, had already played out most of the day, and South Africa, just could not take any more wickets, which led the umpires to officially call the test match a draw, but, not before Williamson brought up his second test hundred.

Morne Morkel took all six wickets for South Africa, and just gave away 23 runs. Morkel, last took a five wicket haul against India at Centurion in 2010. His bowling figures, were also the third-best for a South African playing against New Zealand. Also, it is fifth on the list of top bowling performances by visiting teams at Wellington.

Morkel, who was awarded the Man of the Match award for his outstanding bowling performance, said: “A little bit tired, lots of hard work today. We’ll enjoy taking this trophy back to South Africa. The ball has been coming out quite nicely, luckily today things worked out for me. I’m happy with the performance today. We’re quite happy with this, with the weather here, the wind and rain etc.”

Brendon McCullum, who spoke on Captain Ross Taylor’s behalf, was happy with the draw, but still thought that the team had a lot to learn. “It’s been an indifferent summer for us, we’ve learnt a lot of lessons from this South African team. Hopefully we’ll continue to learn. Great performances today from Kane and Kruger and Doug as well. This is one of the most impressive units to come to our shores in a while. Thank you for your time and stiff competition. Thanks to the fans as well” he said.

South African Captain, Graeme Smith, was just full of praises for both the New Zealand team and the fans as well. “Baz, thanks for the kind words. Thanks for an awesome summer out here in New Zealand. Well played, Kane, congratulations on your hundred. Thanks to our fans back in South Africa, it means a lot to all of us. Thanks to everyone in New Zealand as well” he said.

With South Africa having yet another successful series, most of the players from both squads, will now be heading off to India, to participate in the IPL.

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