Williamson saves Test, SA left with series' spoils

Kane Williamson produced a valiant, unbeaten century to save the third Test of The National Bank Series for New Zealand against South Africa in Wellington.

The 21-year-old ensured the match was drawn at the Basin Reserve with a character-filled 102 not out in the Black Caps’ second innings of 200 for six on the fifth and final day.

South Africa won the series 1-0 but Williamson ensured his team emerged with a thick slice of credit against the world’s No 2-ranked test nation after a resolute innings spanning 327 minutes.

His second test century, and his first since passing three figures on debut against India in late 2010, salvaged pride for the New Zealanders, whose fate looked sealed when they were 83 for five after lunch.

But Williamson collaborated in two dogged stands, with wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell, to frustrate the South Africans.

Setting a highly improbable 389 to win in 81 overs and already without injured captain Ross Taylor, New Zealand’s quest for survival did not start well in the face of a superb performance from fast bowler Morne Morkel, who returned test best figures of six for 23 off 16.4 overs, his fifth five-wicket haul in 39 tests.

New Zealand were without Taylor, who underwent surgery today to have a pin and metal plate inserted in his lower left forearm which Morkel fractured with a short, rising delivery during the home team’s first innings on the fourth day.

And New Zealand were never chance once Morkel got into his work, quickly removing opener  Daniel Flynn and first drop Brendon McCullum for ducks.

Flynn was too slow in dropping his hands as a short ball brushed his gloves on its way through to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and McCullum was no more successful before failing to keep out a well directed yorker to be trapped leg before wicket.

In an outstanding display of controlled, aggressive fast bowling, 27-year-old Morkel expertly mixed up his lengths, repeatedly troubling the batsmen with steep bounce before unleashing the yorker, a variation the New Zealanders could not cope with.

The latter delivery accounted for Dean Brownlie for 15 and Daniel Vettori for a duck in successive balls after Morkel also had Martin Guptill edging to gully for 18 after 99 minutes, and at one stage Morkel had figures of five for eight for off 10 overs.

Williamson had irked the tourists by standing his ground when they claimed a Vernon Philander catch at backward point when the batsman was on seven. Williamson was proven right, though, with replays inconclusive but thereafter he had to put up with plenty of chatter, which only increased when second slip AB de Villiers dropped him on 22.

But Williamson was above the distractions as he and van Wyk raised their team’s hopes by sticking together for 100 minutes while 80 runs were added for the sixth wicket.

It took the return of Morkel to part them when the bowler hauled in a smart one-handed return catch from an aerial drive by van Wyk, who had been composed and determined in scoring 39.

Bracewell entered the middle with three successive ducks behind him but he, too, was up to the job as he remained unbeaten on 20 after 79 minutes in the middle.

Earlier, only two possible results were possible when play resumed this morning with South Africa on 75 without loss in the second innings, holding an overall lead of 274 runs.

They spent the next 70 minutes in total dominance as de Villiers scored a princely 68 off 49 balls with eight fours and one six as the tourists rushed along to 189 for three before de Villiers’ dismissal prompted the declaration.

While Alviro Petersen added just one to his overnight 38 before being run out his opening partner Graeme Smith set the tone against defensive fields as he made a relatively brisk 41 before Bracewell took a smart catch at mid wicket.

South Africa used up just 15 overs this morning while adding 114 to their total, with the New Zealanders powerless to stop an onslaught which also featured 33 not out off 23 balls from Jean-Paul Duminy.                                                                             

Day 4: Taylor breaks forearm, SA remain in box seat

The follow-on mark was attained but it came at a high cost for New Zealand as the third and final Test against South Africa continued in Wellington today.

The BLACKCAPS lost skipper Ross Taylor to a broken bone in his lower left forearm en route to reaching their initial first innings target of 274 on the fourth and penultimate day.

Their ninth and last wicket fell on 275, leaving the tourists holding a lead of 199 runs, which they extended to 274 by reaching 75 without loss by stumps.

With South Africa already holding an unbeatable 1-0 series lead there is no onus on them leaving the hosts any sort of gettable target on the final day, but the manner in which captain Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen batted late today suggests a declaration in the middle of tomorrow’s first session is possible.

Petersen scored 38 not out and Smith 34 not out in 15 overs and there is no reason why Smith will not look for more quick runs tomorrow before banking on his four-pronged pace attack to continue their dominance over the home side’s batsmen.

New Zealand will in all likelihood be without Taylor, who was forced to retire hurt on 18 after he could not evade a short, sharp delivery from fast bowler Morne Morkel which thudded into his lower forearm.

After receiving on-field treatment, he tried to bat on but left the ground one delivery later before hospital scans revealed the fracture, which will prevent him taking any further part in the match.

Responding to South Africa’s 474 for nine declared New Zealand resumed this morning at 65 without loss with the figure of 275 looming largest to deny the tourists the opportunity to enforce the follow on.

They got there, just, after all of the specialist batsmen made starts although none managed to post a score of significance.

The best of them was opener Martin Guptill, who reached 59 before being trapped leg before wicket in the last over before lunch when playing back to a delivery from the outstanding Vernon Philander which nipped back and kept a touch low.

Guptill, dropped twice at gully by Jean-Paul Duminy before he had added to his overnight 28 this morning, gutsed it out for 258 minutes to post his eighth test half-century.

He and the recalled Daniel Flynn gave the home team comfortably their best start of the series with an opening stand of 86 which ended when Philander removed left-hander Flynn for 45 via an edge to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

Philander went on to claim figures of six for 81 off 22 overs, lifting his series return to 21 wickets and his career haul midway through his seventh test to 51. He was the equal second fastest to 50 wickets in test history, after Australian Charlie Turner reached the mark in six tests in 1888.

All of the South Africans were demanding and while Philander had easily the best figures fast bowler Dale Steyn asked many serious questions of the batsmen’s technique and temperament while taking two for 41 off 23 overs.

Steyn accounted for Brendon McCullum for 31 when the first drop feathered a catch behind when attempting to hook then added Kane Williamson for 39 when the 21-year-old edged a fuller ball behind to Boucher.

Dean Brownlie also fell to the hook shot for 29 while Daniel Vettori counter attacked with a fluent 30 before Philander had him snapped up at gully by Jacques Rudolph.

His was the first of three wickets to fall at 263 as Doug Bracewell was bowled for a duck by Philander and Kruger van Wyk slapped a wide offering from Marchant de Lange directly to a man stationed at deep backward point.

New Zealand eventually denied South Africa the option of enforcing the follow on thanks to two fortuitous boundaries to Mark Gillespie but no sooner was that ticked off than Gillespie was the last man out, caught at gully off the irrepressible Philander.

Day 3: Safe start for NZ by Flynn, Guptill

New Zealand have made a secure start to their first innings after South Africa celebrated twin centuries in the third test at Wellington.

The BLACKCAPS went to stumps on the third day on 65 without loss in response to the tourists’ 474 for nine declared, a total built around a test best 156 from Alviro Petersen and 103 from Jean-Paul Duminy despite career best figures of six for 113 from fast bowler Mark Gillespie.

After large chunks of the opening two days were lost to rain, the match finally progressed today although there appears insufficient time for New Zealand to secure the victory they need to tie the series 1-1.

But there is more than enough time for New Zealand to lose the game, making the work of opening batsmen Daniel Flynn and Martin Guptill late today all the more invaluable.

They withstood the South Africans for 25 overs, with the recalled Flynn showing encouraging signs despite being worked over by fast bowlers Morne Morkel and Marchant de Lange.

Flynn reached the close on 35 alongside Guptill on 28 after being peppered with a series of short pitched deliveries, particularly from Morkel, who struck the left-hander blows on the chest, hip and gloves.

While he was at times forced to duck and weave, Flynn’s composure remained intact after he’d got off the mark with a crisp flick through mid wicket off Vernon Philander.

He was a touch lucky on four when an inside edge flew very quickly to the right of wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who did well to even get a glove on the ball.

But Flynn stuck to his task, later straight driving de Lange for four then raising the 50-run partnership by hitting Philander aerially just wide of mid on for another boundary.

His best stroke came off the very next ball, when he swivelled and hooked a shorter offering over the rope at square leg.

South African skipper Graeme Smith had declared his team’s innings shortly after 4pm following fine centuries to opener Petersen and left-hander Duminy, who resumed this morning on 96 and 76 respectively at 246 for two.

They continued to dominate the bowling, eventually putting on precisely 200 for the third wicket before Duminy’s second century at this level ended when he edged Gillespie to Ross Taylor at slip.

New Zealand had a productive session after lunch when they took four wickets for 75 runs as Gillespie and Chris Martin each bagged a pair of wickets, including that of Petersen for an outstanding 156, a 503-minute marathon containing 19 fours and one six.

Boucher then scored 46 and Philander 29 but the plaudits went to Gillespie, who got through a mountain of work to take six for 116 off 33.4 overs.

It was due reward for the fast bowler’s perseverance and followed his figures of five for 59 in the second test at Hamilton which South Africa won by nine wickets.

He took the last four wickets to fall after South Africa had threatened to score well over 500 when they were 362 for three prior to Petersen’s departure.

The opener’s long vigil finally came to an end when he was trapped leg before wicket by Martin after playing all around a straight delivery.

Gillespie continued to charge in hard and comfortably had the most impressive figures, although Martin worked hard as well to claim his two for 95 off 28 overs.

Day 2: SA forge on through Petersen, Duminy

New Zealand toiled without reward as South Africa remained in charge of the second test in Wellington.

A shortened second day at Hawkins Basin Reserve ended with the tourists on 246 for two, with opener Alviro Petersen in sight of a significant milestone on 96 not out alongside Jean-Paul Duminy on 76 not out.

For the second successive day rain played a major role, forcing another delayed start before bad light ensured an early close.

In between the New Zealand bowlers had to contend with strong, gusty northerly winds which whipped down the grand and often had them bailing out in their delivery stride.

Play did not get under way until 2.25pm with South Africa resuming at 136 for two and officials hopeful of getting through 49 overs.

Fading light did not allow that but South Africa’s position strengthened as Petersen and left-hander Duminy extended their unbroken third wicket partnership to 140 runs.

Only one clear chance was offered, when Petersen, on 68, edged a ball wide of second slip where Martin Guptill dived to his right, did well to grasp the ball but failed to hold on to it.

Outside of that Petersen and Duminy were in almost total control, with Petersen wasting no time in ticking off the six runs he required upon the resumption to raise his fourth test half-century.

Having pulled Chris Martin to the boundary in the first over Petersen was not as convincing in the fast bowler’s next over when an outside edge beat second slip en route to the third man fence.

In his 13th test Petersen is just four shy of his third century after settling into his work, playing forcefully off the back foot and working the ball nicely off his pads as he struck 12 fours and one six in 343 minutes of watchful
pitch occupation.

Duminy was the more fluent of the pair, striking the ball gracefully through the offside where he employed the drive to profitable affect.

The 27-year-old’s fourth test half-century duly came and went in 125 minutes before Petersen raised the 200 for the visitors by cutting left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori through point.

The 100-partnership followed soon after in 141 minutes when Petersen stepped back and powered Vettori through mid wicket.

Tea was reached with South Africa a threatening 222 for two and only another seven overs were possible when the light persuaded officials to vacate the playing surface.

Despite not losing a wicket today South Africa did suffer one blow, with key batsman Hashim Amla not expected to play any further part in the test.

Amla underwent surgery overnight for a ``blunt force trauma’’ injury sustained during his fine knock of 63 on the first day. He was midway through his innings when a delivery from Martin deflected off an inside edge into his groin region.

Only 79 overs have been possible through two days, but the weather outlook for the remainder of the test is more positive even if strong winds are expected to persist.

South Africa are 1-0 up in the three-test series after winning the second match at Hamilton by nine wickets.  

Day 1: SA have better of shortened day

New Zealand spent much of a truncated first day chasing leather when the third test against South Africa began in Wellington.

The tourists, 1-0 ahead in the three-match series, squeezed in just 42 overs due to the elements but did well to advance to 136 for two at the Basin Reserve.

A wet outfield and later bad light took a big chunk out of the day’s play which the BLACKCAPS will look back on with little fondness after winning the toss.

Few deliveries beat the bat and the South Africans for the most part were allowed to operate under little or no pressure after being invited to bat first

While the hosts claimed one wicket in each of the two sessions the bowlers were consistent only in their inconsistency and now resume tomorrow needing to part opener Alviro Pedersen and JP Duminy.

Pedersen played watchfully in reaching 44 in three hours, his cautious brief interrupted only occasionally such as when he stepped down the pitch to dispatch spinner Daniel Vettori over the fence at long on.

Left-hander Duminy scored fluently to make 23 in 36 minutes after he strode to the middle in the first over following tea when Hashim Amla’s fine innings ended at 63 after a tick over two hours.

Amla looked set for a significantly big score before he produced a rash pull shot to the first ball he faced after the interval from fast bowler Mark Gillespie and succeeded only in offering a skied top edge for wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk to haul in.

The start of the day was dominated by the weather, which delayed any action until 2pm due to a wet outfield following persistent overnight rain.

New Zealand captain Ross Taylor chose to field in the overcast conditions, no doubt hoping the heavy cloud cover would assist his seam bowlers to swing the ball.

Instead, they failed to utilise the conditions as South Africa progressed almost effortlessly through the extended first session to reach tea at 103 for one.

Amla was all class as he got himself under way with ease against some inconsistent bowling, quickly getting into stride as he struck Doug Bracewell off the back foot through the covers after earlier flicking a wayward delivery from Chris Martin to the fence at fine leg.

While Petersen was denied much of the strike, Amla regularly found the boundary, hitting 10 fours in a quality innings as he made the bowlers pay when they erred in either line or length.

He was inconvenienced only once, when an inside edge off Martin struck his groin protector, but outside of that Amla was in full control.

New Zealand were perhaps fortuitous to get one wicket in the first session, with South African skipper Graeme Smith adjudged to have got an inside edge off Bracewell.

Smith was on five when he lunged forward to Bracewell and replays strongly suggested his missed the ball completely.

Smith, who had time to raise his 8000th test run in his 99th test, earlier announced two unexpected changes to his playing 11, with Jacques Kallis ruled out after awaking this morning with a stiff neck and legspinner Imran Tahir making way for fast bowler Marchant de Lange. Kallis’ place was taken by JP Duminy.

New Zealand also made two well telegraphed changes to their side who lost the second test by nine wickets inside three days at Hamilton, with Daniel Flynn and Dean Brownlie included to strengthen and lengthen the batting, in place of Rob Nicol and seamer Brent Arnel.

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