(Reuters) - South Africa’s crushing nine-wicket victory over New Zealand to win the second test inside three days on Saturday was achieved by three 20-minute periods of superb pace bowling and their tail contributing a valuable 165 runs when they were in deep trouble.
Graeme Smith completed the victory when he drove part-time spinner Rob Nicol through the covers to take his side to 103 for one, two more runs than they needed, shortly before tea on the third day at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
Skipper Smith, who finished on 55 not out, and Hashim Amla (46) had needed less than 90 minutes to score the 101 runs that gave their side a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The victory, however, had been set up through the exploits of their fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, when they captured five New Zealand wickets for no runs late on day one to trigger a collapse from a comfortable 133 for two to 133-7.
Philander and Steyn also provided the spark needed in New Zealand’s second innings when they reduced Ross Taylor’s side to 7-3 just after tea on the second day, while the former ran through the lower middle order either side of lunch on Saturday.
Philander finished with combined figures of 10-114, his second 10-wicket haul in just his sixth test to be named man of the match.
“I thought Philander and Steyn bowled well in both innings and they put pressure on the batsmen and pressure told at the end of the day,” Taylor said in a televised interview.
“It was a pretty flat wicket but they put the ball in the right areas and put us under pressure.”
Despite being comprehensively outplayed in the match, which lost more than two hours of play due to rain on the first day, New Zealand had an opportunity to impose themselves on the South Africans’ first inning after Mark Gillespie had ripped the heart out of their order.
Gillespie took 4-24 from seven overs as the Proteas collapsed to 88-6, before AB de Villiers (83) rallied the tail and the final four wickets added 165 runs that gave the visitors a valuable 68-run first innings lead.
“At 88-6, things were a bit squeaky in our changing room but it is the sign of a good test team that we were able to get ourselves out of trouble and then able to dominate the game,” Smith said.
“Crucial knock,” Smith added of de Villier’s innings. “He marshalled the innings very well when we were under pressure and each of our tail was grafting very hard and it’s a big part of the team when they contribute.”
Taylor also said his side’s inability to finish off the South African tail had been crucial in the first innings and they needed to make the most of such opportunities as they headed to Wellington for the third and final test next week.
”With the ball, I thought we were okay. We had them at six for 90-odd but we weren’t able to put the ball in (those good) areas for long enough to put them under pressure.
“(But) we’re not out of the series, we have to pick ourselves up and can still draw the series come Wellington.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien