South Africa vs New Zealand 2nd Test Day 4: Steyn takes five to lead South Africa to 1-0 series win

South Africa celebrate after beating New Zealand 1-0

South Africa celebrate after beating New Zealand 1-0

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

South Africa pace maestro Dale Steyn was back to his very best on the fourth day of the second Test in Centurion as he bulldozed through New Zealand’s batting line-up with a five-wicket haul to hand the Proteas a 204-run win and a 1-0 series win.

With his five wickets, Steyn surpassed legendary Pakistan left-arm seamer Wasim Akram’s tally of 414 Test wickets and now sits in seventh place on the all-time wicket-takers list in Tests.

Having 416 wickets to his name, the Phalaborwa native is only six wickets away from overtaking Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s most successful bowler in Test history.

Starting off the day on 105/6, South Africa lost Vernon Philander early on as he was clean bowled by Tim Southee for 14. Shortly after, South Africa stand-in captain Faf du Plessis decided to declare with his side on 132/7, which set New Zealand a target of 400 to win.

The declaration left Proteas batsman Temba Bavuma unbeaten on 40, which came off 113 balls and included six boundaries.

Southee was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Trent Boult snapped up two and Doug Bracewell and Neil Wagner chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Chasing 400 to win, Steyn, for the most part, and Philander carved through New Zealand’s top order to leave them reeling at 7/4. Steyn struck twice in the first over of the innings, removing Tom Latham off the very first ball and Martin Guptill off the last ball of the over. In his next over, Steyn removed Ross Taylor, while Philander had New Zealand captain Kane Williamson caught behind for five runs in the fourth over.

Having lost nearly half their batting line-up without reaching double figures, the Black Caps were on the verge of a major collapse, but that did not happen as Henry Nicholls and wicketkeeper BJ Watling put together a 68-run partnership before Watling was trapped lbw by Dane Piedt for 32.

Mitchell Santner managed to make 16 before he was clean bowled by Steyn, while Bracewell made an encouraging 30, but was unable to convert it into a bigger score as he was given out lbw off the bowling of Philander.

Kagiso Rabada got into the act as well as he removed Southee and Wagner in quick succession, leaving Nicholls as New Zealand’s only hope against the lethal Proteas bowling attack.

It was soon over for the Black Caps as Steyn completed his five-wicket haul and led South Africa to victory by dismissing Nicholls for 76, which came off 140 deliveries and included 12 boundaries.

Nicholls scored a valiant 76

Nicholls scored a valiant 76

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Steyn was easily the most successful bowler as he took five wickets, while Philander and Rabada picked up two wickets apiece and Piedt claimed one.

Steyn registered his 26th five-wicket haul in Tests

Steyn registered his 26th five-wicket haul in Tests

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Williamson was disappointed to have lost, and said: “Finger is okay, just a little stiff. [Toss?] If you said the team batted first would get 450, I would change it. But the pitch was soft at first, didn’t expect it to break up. It was a tough one. If we were perhaps more fortunate, things could have ended up differently in the first innings.

“Credit to South Africa for their batting. The first innings was the major factor that decided the match, You can always have a funny half-hour, an hour. The guys showed fight in the second innings with ball and bat [later on]. Lot of positives for us to take into the future tours.

“South Africa played outstandingly. To get to 450 and the class of their bowling attack certainly showed. Wags taking a five-for, and to do so creatively, and Henry the way he batting in the first and second innings was great. Showed a lot of character. We get home for a week, and then India for a couple of months. Raring to go.”

Du Plessis was thrilled to have won the series 1-0, and said: “[Toss] We were unsure what to do, possibly would have bowled. With our guys on that first innings pitch, would have been a handful. The 450 we got set us up, but our bowlers in the first innings would have been a handful .

“Difficult to say if it [batting] was key, but it set us up. Cooky was solid, Quinny took it to them. It was important for us to put on a good total and everyone played their part. To get 480 was always going to be challenging. Really special hundred, to captain the side, to play a big part. Few extra emotions. Really happy to contribute again.

“Vernon and Dale make a huge difference, they are relentless, they don’t give anything to hit. Hopefully they can play a lot of games for a lot of years. Majority of Test players, the senior guys have to perform against a big team like Australia. Big series, Australia in Australia is a bit of a challenge, but we are starting to find our rhythm and this Test is a good step forward.”

South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock was named Man of the Match for making two half-centuries, and said: “[Opening?] Injury happened quite quickly. Optional practice. I was ready to go off, go fishing. But walking up the stairs, Dean [Elgar] hurt his leg, and I put up my hand. Just wanted to do what was best for the team.

“[Second innings?] Wasn’t meant to come out positively. Got a bit of luck, couple of edges got me going. Didn’t mean to play aggressive, instincts took over. I think, Dean can have his spot. I’m happy batting lower down. Dean’s built for that, he’s worked his way and he deserves to be there and I’m going to be where I’ve earned to be at 6, 7. Bowlers made life hard, I think BJ also had a hard time behind the stumps, balls wobbling, sore fingers, that’s the nature of keeping. Hopefully they don’t give me such a hard time next time.”

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