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Proteas in charge after thrilling second day's play against New Zealand

South Africa's Kagiso Rabada celebrates the wicket of Will Young during play on day 2 of the 2nd test between South Africa and New Zealand at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand. Saturday 26 February 2022. Picture: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz/BackpagePix

South Africa's Kagiso Rabada celebrates the wicket of Will Young during play on day 2 of the 2nd test between South Africa and New Zealand at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand. Saturday 26 February 2022. Picture: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz/BackpagePix

Published Feb 26, 2022

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Brief scores:

Day 2 of 5: Stumps

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South Africa 364

New Zealand 157/5

Johannesburg - South Africa finally gained some control in this two-match series on Saturday, thanks to a lively ninth wicket partnership between Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj followed up by a bruising spell from Kagiso Rabada that knocked out New Zealand’s top order.

Play ebbed and flowed throughout the day, with the Black Caps in charge early, South Africa then counter-attacking as the tail wagged, Rabada’s charge with the new ball and then Colin de Grandhomme thumping some big blows in the final hour.

After the hosts had slumped to 91/5, De Grandhomme and Daryl Mitchell reverted the pressure with an as yet unbeaten 66-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Mitchell contributed just 12 runs, but played the perfect support role as De Grandhomme took over. New Zealand still trail by 207 runs.

South Africa allowed the home team to seize the initiative in the first session, by not playing in the same assertive manner as the top order had done on the opening day. Temba Bavuma was bowled for 29 by an accidental yorker from Matt Henry as he attempted a loose drive, half an hour into the day’s play. It was the first of half a dozen bizarre dismissal shared between the two sides at an overcast Hagley Oval.

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Rassie van der Dussen scratched around, to make 35 but never looked comfortable and then got out, attempting to drive a wide half volley from Neil Wagner, and hitting the ground with his bat at the same time as he edged the ball to Mitchell at slip.

With Kyle Verreynne and Wiaan Mulder also making minimal contributions South Africa lost four wickets in the first session for just 60 runs. Rabada came and went after lunch, and then there was a 20 minute rain delay after which Maharaj and Jansen played sedately until a spell from Neil Wagner changed the tone for the rest of the day.

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Wagner went to his customary ‘bouncer’ policy against Jansen, swapping a few words along the way. The 21-year-old answered back both verbally and then with his batting, smashing Wagner over long-on for four, followed by a superb pull to the midwicket fence.

More chat followed between the pair, New Zealand changed the field, Jansen kept swinging with Maharaj, until then largely becalmed, suddenly joining in the fun. The pair added 62 runs for the ninth wicket, both striking six fours, and ending Wagner’s hopes of taking a ‘five-for’ against the land of his birth. He still finished with 4/102, but that onslaught removed New Zealand’s momentum.

Worse followed for the hosts when it was their turn to bat, with Rabada dismissing the Black Caps captain Tom Latham with a delivery that pitched outside leg-stump, which the left-hander glanced, giving Verreynne the opportunity to complete a neat diving catch to his right. Will Young went fishing outside off-stump a short while later to leave New Zealand at 9/2.

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Devon Conway and Henry Nicholls were made to work hard in a 42-run stand for the third wicket, before Conway, having survived another stern examination from Rabada, also flicked a leg-side delivery towards a diving Verreynne.

Nicholls, who made a century in the first Test, looked in complete control leaving and defending well and taking advantage each time South Africa erred - cutting with authority then the ball was dropped short outside his off-stump, clipping neatly off his legs when the bowling was too full.

However Elgar then positioned Sarel Erwee at a deep backward point - about 15 metres off the boundary - and incredibly watched as Nicholls hit a short ball from Jansen straight to him after making 39.

It was a bonus wicket for the Proteas, but given the plan and the way in which Nicholls had been playing, it was one they celebrated enthusiastically.

Rabada accounted for Tom Blundell with a stunning delivery that nipped back into the right hander before De Grandhomme’s fireworks late in the day.

It was a thrilling day’s play, and while New Zealand would have been grateful to De Grandhomme and Mitchell for stopping the bleeding, it is South Africa which is in charge heading into the third day.

@shockerhess

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