If only this Test match had started today then New Zealand would find themselves in an encouraging position. They closed on 169 for four after South Africa had added a further 95 runs to their overnight total for the loss of five wickets. As it is, the result of yesterday’s catastrophe still stands so New Zealand still trail by 133 runs.
Their bowlers had begun the day on a more positive note, with Trent Boult bowling overnight centurion Alviro Petersen in the second over. They maintained a much tighter line and length than they had on day one, while Brendon McCullum backed them up with field settings that were considerably more pragmatic than those he employed yesterday.
The start of the New Zealand second innings had seen a touch of déjà vu as Martin Guptill again departed cheaply, but Brendon McCullum curbed his natural aggression and played what might be termed a captain’s innings. Dean Brownlie then took the initiative in the final session, making the most of the older ball and some lacklustre change bowling to end with an undefeated half-century.
Brownlie had come to the crease following the loss of Kane Williamson shortly before tea. Williamson had played cautiously, supporting his captain well, before wafting a wide one and falling for 15. That made it 29 for two, with South Africa still entertaining thoughts of a two-day win.
However, McCullum and Brownlie began to find their range, with the latter scoring particularly quickly. He was ruthless on anything short and wide - hardly surprising given his upbringing in Perth - and benefited from being dropped in successive overs, first by Dean Elgar and then by Alviro Petersen.
The introduction of spin finally broke the partnership as McCullum was out leg-before to Robin Peterson after attempting to play round his front pad. That brought Daniel Flynn to the crease and he too latched onto anything short before departing, against the run of play, to Jacques Kallis.
Kallis changed his angle of attack and went round the wicket, finding just enough movement in to graze the left-handed Flynn’s inside-edge. AB de Villiers behind the stumps, momentarily wrong-footed, changed direction and clung on.
South Africa then brought back their opening pair of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander for the final half hour, with Steyn employing a predominantly short-pitched line of attack. He gained very little reward for his exertions besides hitting Brownlie in the ribs with a ball that didn’t bounce as high as it should.
That delivery summed up the nature of the pitch. The Cape Town breeze had done a good job of removing any moisture that had existed on day one and opened up the cracks to such a degree that South Africa will be glad they earnt a significant first innings. They would not have wanted to bat last on a pitch that, by days four and five, could have become difficult to bat on.
South Africa perhaps hadn’t kicked on quite as they hoped this morning, in spite of de Villiers notching up another half-century. Trent Boult and Chris Martin both bowled tidily and ended with three wickets apiece before the home side declared 302 runs ahead - Graeme Smith clearly seeing little to be gained by sending Steyn and Morkel out to face some brisk bowling on an increasingly up-and-down pitch.
Dean Elgar had earlier finally scored his first Test runs - 21 of them - but still looked a little skittish prior to being caught behind off Boult. However, it is his namesake, Brownlie, who will remember the day with more fondness, in spite of the pain he will inevitably feel when he wakes up tomorrow. He will begin day three with 69 runs and a nasty bruise to show for his efforts today and needs just eight more runs to equal his highest Test score. New Zealand need 133 more runs just to make South Africa bat again.
© Cricket World 2013
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