New Zealand’s top order goes missing leaving de Grandhomme and his 36-ball fifty to pull up the slack
Stumps New Zealand 157 for 5 (de Grandhomme 54*, Mitchell 28*, Rabada 3-37) trail South Africa364 (Erwee 108, Wagner 4-102) by 207 runs
The most notable difference between play on the second day compared to the first was in the conditions. It started in sunshine and there was swing in the air but it soon became overcast and there was some drizzle and the seamers came to life. The pitch also quickened up and run-scoring became less laboured. After hovering at over two an over in the morning session, South Africa scored at more than four an over post lunch while New Zealand’s run-rate was a healthy 3.5. All that resulted in four times the number of wickets falling on day two compared to day one and the game speeding up.
Two balls later, Henry beat Kyle Verreynne with one that seamed away and missed the edge and two balls after that, Verreynne was nearly run-out at the non-striker’s end as he got off the mark with a risky single. Henry only had to wait until his next over for Verreynne to nick off to second slip. The wicketkeeper batter has now scored just 112 runs from six Test innings and averages 14.00.
South Africa lost 2 for 23 in the first 10 overs of the morning and scored only just 16 runs off the next 10 overs and something had to give. Neil Wagner was the beneficiary of the squeeze when van der Dussen, desperate for runs, chased a wide half-volley on one knee and edged to Daryl Mitchell at first slip.
Wiaan Mulder, still considered a batting allrounder, looked composed and played crisp drives off the front and back foot before attempting a half-hearted pull shot, and as hard as he tried to bail out, he popped up a top edge that landed safely in Tom Blundell’s gloves. South Africa went to lunch on 298 for 7 and lost Rabada two overs after the break. He became Wagner’s fourth wicket, playing at a ball on fourth-stump line only to get a thick edge to slip.
A short rain delay did not put Jansen or Maharaj off their task and they batted with fluency as New Zealand fell into the trap of peppering Nos. 8 and 10 with short balls. Maharaj brought out the upper cut off Henry, Jansen was strong on the pull off Wagner, then Maharaj flayed Wagner for three boundaries in an over to bring up the fifty-run stand and sliced Southee through cover for four. Kyle Jamieson, who had not had any success earlier in the innings, put an end to South Africa’s chutzpah when he had Maharaj caught at gully and Lutho Sipamla caught in the slips to end South Africa’s innings 25 minutes before the scheduled tea break.
The tourists used that time to their advantage. Rabada removed both openers in 10 deliveries to make South Africa’s total look like much more than it is. Tom Latham was caught down the leg side by Verreynne, diving to his right, and Will Young was done in a manner more conventional, nicking off to a ball he should have left outside off.
Rabada started the final session on fire too, much to Devon Conway’s discomfort. In three successive balls, South Africa reviewed an lbw chance that was too high, had an appeal for caught behind that came off the thigh and a ball that beat that bat by a whisker. Conway also survived an lbw shout off Sipamla, playing his first Test since the series against Sri Lanka in early 2021, and almost handed Rabada a return catch before falling to the second leg-side strangle of the innings off Jansen.
Mulder was brought on after 20 overs and convinced Dean Elgar to go for two reviews in three balls in his second over. The first hit Mitchell above the knee roll and was umpire’s call on clipping the bails, the second was in a similar spot with the same batter caught on the crease. Ball-tracking showed this one was missing the stumps altogether. Mitchell gave thanks to the heavens and remained batting to the close but some of his partners were not quite so lucky.
Nicholls was caught by a strategically-placed fielder halfway to the point boundary as he failed to keep the cut down and Blundell bowled while shouldering arms to Rabada. South Africa would have sensed an opportunity to run through New Zealand but de Grandhomme didn’t give it to them.
He took on the bowling, especially the inexperienced pair of Mulder, who he hit for a six and back-to-back fours in the same over, and Sipamla, who he cut for four and pulled for six off successive balls. He brought up fifty with a drive to deep cover and then changed gears to see out the day. South Africa used the last review on the penultimate ball of the day when Sipamla appealed for lbw against Mitchell, but he had inside-edged the ball.
While South Africa will be pleased with their efforts, especially with the ball, they may still have some concern about their bowling discipline. While New Zealand bowled 41 maidens out of 133 – a third – South Africa sent down 11 out of 45, less than a quarter.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent