Day Five, first ANZ Test v South Africa
The weather ruined what could have been a very entertaining final day.
Showers overnight and consistent rain throughout the morning meant the covers never came off and the players simply turned up before two o'clock to shake hands and declare a draw.
The teams will relocate to Wellington for Thursday's second ANZ Test with the series nicely poised at nil-all.
12:35 - Same old story unfortunately - more rain and still fairly steady. Groundsman doing their best, but up against it. Covers on for a while yet.
10:30- Rain fairly steady at the moment. Umpires currently monitoring situation, but won't head out to the middle until rain stops. No timeframes at this stage, but will keep updated.
9.50 - Overnight rain looks likely to delay day five unfortunately. Just drizzle at the moment, but forecast is for more throughout the day.
Day four, first ANZ Test v South Africa
Another day of tough Test cricket.
After losing an early wicket, South Africa seemed to have batted their way out of trouble, only to lose three wickets in the final half an hour to see them slightly teetering at 224-6 at stumps, a lead 191.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis is the key man on 56 not out, but he's batting with the bowlers and will have to contend with the BLACKCAPS spin twins who are getting good assistance from the pitch.
Day five is set up deliciously - if the weather behaves. Play set to start at 10:40am local time with 94 overs scheduled for the final day.
After a half an hour delayed start due to the Dunedin mist, play got underway at 11:30 with thick cloud above and a definite chill in the air. The hearty soles who braved the cold were rewarded early when Neil Wagner struck in the fourth over of the day after only one run had been added. Hashim Amla (24) flicking one to Tim Southee at mid-wicket to have the visitors 39-2 or 6-2 using the first innings deficit.
Dean Elgar (89) continued to be the thorn in the BLACKCAPS side. The nuggety left hander was once again at his poking and prodding best as he frustrated the hosts on day four. His 249 ball knock stalled the BLACKCAPS momentum and ensured South Africa's innings stayed in tact.
Day four threatened to be a dangerous one for the visitors. The BLACKCAPS energetically pushed to get a roll on with the ball and set up a chase on day five, but were continually denied by the stubbornness and skill of Elgar and Faf du Plessis. The pair combined for an 80 run stand which stretched much of the afternoon to ensure South Africa stayed in the match. An important partnership.
With the game dawdling in the final session, spinners' Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner set the game alight. Patel first lured Elgar into a false shot, before Temba Bavuma played one on to his stumps off Santner. When Quinton de Kock was bowled with a peach by Patel South Africa had lost three wickets for 25 runs and were teetering at 218-6, the lead just 185.
Just as the BLACKCAPS looked to be moving in for the kill, bad light stopped play at 6:30 with nine overs still remaining in the day. The umpires had threatened to do this for much of the last half hour, but eventually had to yield to the light metre despite another half an hour being available. Time to make up tomorrow ... weather permitting!
The ding-dong battled continued in Dunedin as Kane Williamson's 16th Test century propelled the BLACKCAPS to 341 and a 33 run first innings lead.
South African spinner Keshav Maharaja finished with 5-94 to help dismiss the hosts early in the final session.
Trent Boult struck in his first over, but Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla negotiated their way to an early stumps brought by bad light with the scoreboard reading 38-1 and a slim lead of five runs.
The action wasn't all on the field on day three as the entire University of Otago Oval was evacuated late in the date due to a mystery fire alarm in the main grandstand.
A Kane classic. The skipper oozed class as he anchored his side towards a small first-innings lead, showing his trademark composure as he soaked up pressure and re-directed it towards South Africa. His partnership with BJ Watling of 85 steered the BLACKCAPS through a difficult period, with South Africa benefitting from some reverse swing. His efforts would eventually see him raise his bat to a standing ovation from a large Dunedin crowd, taking him equal with Ross Taylor and within one century of Martin Crowe’s record of 17.
The BLACKCAPS were edging closer to parity… South Africa were taking occasional wickets. Both teams fought valiantly to gain the advantage on day three, but little wriggle room could be established for either side. Despite career best figures of 5-94 for Keshav Maharaj, the BLACKCAPS managed to take a small but encouraging 31 run lead into the second innings - handy.
Neil Wagner caped off a solid BLACKCAPS batting effort with a run-a-ball 32. Incredibly, Wagner didn't have to run any of those as he bashed five fours and two sixes in an important late cameo that helped earn the BLACKCAPS a deserved lead.
Day Two In Short
The BLACKCAPS patience with the ball paid off and the batsmen have made impressive early inroads with the bat to leave the opening ANZ Test in Dunedin in the balance.
Trent Boult claimed 4-64 and was well backed up by Neil Wagner (3-88) and Jeetan Patel (2-85) as South Africa were dismissed for 308 shortly after lunch.
Captain Kane Williamson led the reply, hosting a 102 run stand with opener Jeet Raval (52) before guiding his side to stumps at 177-3.
He'll have night-watchman Jeetan Patel with him on day three as they try and eat into the 131 run first innings deficit.
Trouble for Taylor
BLACKCAPS Coach Mike Hesson and the rest of New Zealand will be holding their breath overnight after Ross Taylor hobbled off the Dunedin pitch in considerable discomfort. The 33-year-old veteran took off for a single and flagged medical staff with pain in right his calf muscle.
The decorated number four will go for a scan at the soonest opportunity - fingers crossed for good news!
Hiss, Roar, Wicket
Wickets didn't happen immediately, but Trent Boult and and Neil Wagner came out firing on the morning of day two and created a number of chances.
Past the outside edge, french cuts, edges falling just short of slip - it was all happening except for troubling the wickets column. Eventually Wagner got his just reward when a beautiful short-pitched delivery got a feather from Elgar through to the keeper.
Brought an end to a special knock of 140 from Elgar - a new career best.
Following the first wicket of the morning, the BLACKCAPS never relented the pressure on the visitors and collected regular scalps. Trent Boult added three to his overnight tally to finish with 4-64, while Jeetan Patel claimed figures of 2-85 and South Africa were bowled out for 308.
Trying to survive Vernon
The South Africa bowling attack is world-class all-round and led by the incredibly precise Vernon Philander. The prodigious seam bowler displayed his trademark accuracy in his 14 overs to date and accounted for the early wicket of Tom Latham, with the BLACKCAPS opener getting a touch through to wicket-keeper Quintin de Kock on 10.
It may seem a little surprising that the BLACKCAPS record second wicket partnership against South Africa was only 90, but Jeet Raval and Kane Williamson chose a good time to render that history. The pair put on 102 together, both bring up half-centuries in the process and taking the BLACKCAPS to 117-1.
Steady the Ship
With Keshav Maharaj dismissing both Raval (52) and Henry Nicholls (12) and Taylor retired hurt, the BLACKCAPS needed someone to anchor their way through to stumps. That man would (of course) be Kane Williamson. The skippers was in sublime tough as he navigated his way to 78 not out at stumps. Was partnered ably by night-watchman Jeetan Patel in the final overs, who made sure the BLACKCAPS would head to the shed just three down.
A big job for ahead on day three.
Day One In Short
South African opener Dean Elgar stood between the BLACKCAPS and a dominant start to the ANZ Test series on day one in Dunedin.
After losing the toss and being asked to bowl on, the hosts quickly reduced the Proteas to 22-3 in the 19th over, but they couldn’t push on as Elgar’s ninth Test century helped his side to stumps at 229-4.
The BLACKCAPS bowled an incredible 30 maidens in their 90 overs under blue skies at the University of Otago Oval, as Neil Wagner lead the way with 2-59, while Trent Boult and Jimmy Neesham shared a wicket a piece.
A glorious day dawned in the deep South for the first day of the ANZ series. The newly raised banks stood proudly in three corners of the ground. The debut of the Village Green was also a success as punters could chill out out the back of the ground with gourmet food stands, bean bags and a big screen for company.
Spin to win
The BLACKCAPS sprung a slight surprise at the toss by naming spinners Mitchel Santner and Jeetan Patel in the match day XI. The first time since march 2010 two specialist spinners have played for the BLACKCAPS in a home Test - incidentally it was also Patel on that occasion partnering Daniel Vettori.
Almost humourously, BLACKCAPS captain Kane Williamson lost his sixth consecutive toss and South Africa decided, somewhat hesitantly, to bat.
The first hour of play saw a disciplined BLACKCAPS bowling effort hold South Africa to just 16 runs in 16 overs at the expense of Stephen Cook (3), who shouldered arms to a Trent Boult bender and was out LBW. The tight start also featured introduction of Patel in the sixth over.
Wagner goes wild
Typically fired up and bowling with good pace, Neil Wagner made a big double breakthrough in the second hour. He shaped one back beautifully to undo the fine technique of Hashim Amla, before sending JP Duminy on his way second ball with a rip snorter of a short ball which reared and hit the gloves. At this point South Africa were 22-3 after 19 overs and in serious trouble.
With the pitch playing stickier than expected, Elgar and captain Faff du Plessis battened down the hatches to weather the early pressure storm. Once they’d soaked it up they pushed on past lunch and began to frustrate the locals. 126 run stand at slower than a run every two balls was the bedrock of the South African effort.
Picked in place of Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham played his part on day one. He bowled six overs at good pace, consistently up above 140 kmph. He also snared the big wicket of du Plessis for 52. The Proteas captain taking on the short ball and losing to Trent Boult on the deep square leg fence. This brought a raucous response from the group of rowdy students who had been camped behind Boult for much of the day.
Elgar all day
The consummate opening batsman’s effort. He was disciplined in defence and decisive in attack as he lasted the entire day at the University of Otago Oval. His seventh Test century would have to rate as one of his best as he soaked up 262 balls on a tough first day of Test cricket. He’ll resume on 128 and keen to push on.
Students on the East bank
Brought some real fizz to day one and kept the Oval buzzing for the 90 overs. They’d obviously had a decent warm-up, as they brought energy from ball one and incredibly lasted right to the end of the day. Chants such as “Neil is a Wagner”, “we love you Boulty” “give us a wave Jeetan” rung out from the East bank and were warmly enjoyed by fellow punters and the players alike. Hope to see this continue!