Dale Steyn claimed five wickets for 33 runs as South Africa cleaned up New Zealand for 195 to clinch the two-match series 1-0. Resuming at 105 for 6, South Africa declared after reaching 132 for 7, thus setting the visitors an improbable target of 400 for victory. The Proteas needed only 58.2 overs to run through the Kiwi batting unit. Henry Nicholls with 76 was the only New Zealand batsman to stand up to the fiery South African batting line-up. Apart from Steyn’s five-for, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada also chipped in with two wickets each.
Steyn got South Africa off to a perfect start as they began their defence of 400. Tom Latham was clean bowled first ball as he tried to withdraw the bat off a rising delivery, but was only successful in guiding the ball onto the stumps. Latham was dismissed by Steyn for the third time in as many innings. Things were only to get worse for the visitors. Off the last ball of the over, Martin Guptill got a brilliant outswinger, which pitched on off and moved away, and Guptill only managed to edge it to Hashim Amla at slip.
In Steyn’s next over, there was further trouble for New Zealand as variable bounce caused more woes for the visitors. Ross Taylor, who was in supreme form against Zimbabwe, like most of the top order were, could not keep one out from Steyn that kept low and straight. He was trapped lbw and New Zealand’s scoreboard read an embarrassing 3 for 5. But, their woes were far from over. The Kiwis would have been looking up to Kane Williamson to deliver, but he only ended up outside edging Philander to Quinton de Kock, who took a brilliant catch low to his right.
Williamson’s dismissal left the Kiwis gasping for breath at 4 for 7. That they ended up making 195 was thanks largely due to Nicholls defiance. His 76 lasted 254 minutes, during which he faced 140 balls, and hit 12 fours before becoming Steyn’s last wicket, and also the last of the match. Having batted with defiance for most of his stay at the crease, Nicholls eventually gave up the fight, knowing it was a lost cause. Nicholls swung Steyn straight to the long leg boundary where he was caught joyfully by Rabada.
The only phase during which New Zealand put up a semblance of a fight was when Nicholls was joined by BJ Watling. The duo raised the score from 7 for 4 to 75 before Dane Piedt ended South Africa’s frustration. Trapped lbw for 32, a review could not save Watling. Mitchell Santner aided Nicholls in crossing in fifty before he lost his middle stump to Steyn. With nothing much to lose, Doug Bracewell took on Piedt and raced to 30 with a few big hits, before falling lbw to Philander. With the tail swinging their bat, the end came swiftly.
--By A Cricket Correspondent