Sunday, March 19, 2017

Black Caps vs. Proteas

The Black Caps are coming to town. They’re playing South Africa, currently ranked 3rd in the world at test cricket, to New Zealand’s 5th. The first test in Dunedin was drawn after the fifth day’s play was lost to rain, with both teams scoring and taking wickets at similar rates, so it looked like a fairly even match.

New Zealand started poorly on the Thursday, losing three quick wickets for 21, before being steadied by Raval and then Nicholls, and finishing on 268. That looked like a low score until they went in to bowl and finished day one with South Africa on 24/2. Day two started well, too, and at lunch South Africa were looking on the ropes with all their top order out, and at 94/6.

But after lunch they picked up, and De Kock and Bavuma put on a 160 partnership to take the Proteas to within sniffing distance of the Black Caps target. And there was more trouble to come, as the Black Caps inexplicably failed to deal with the tail adequately, allowing the runs to pile on well past their total; they closed the day at 348, 80 runs ahead, and with one wicket still remaining.

We had tickets to Saturday, day three. After dealing with our usual Saturday morning chores, we headed down to the Basin. By the time we'd parked and walked to the ground, South Africa had added 11 runs before being dismissed, and the Black Caps were in to bat at 13/0. Right, the fightback starts here, we a good morning's cricket, and start slowly chipping away at that total. After all, you've got three days to play two innings, the weather forecast is good for all three days, what's the hurry?

Some nice bins, with a cricket match in the background

Unfortunately, the Black Caps don't seem to be very good at this kind of cricket. With the exception of Raval, nearly all of the batsmen were tempted into foolish hits, and got themselves out. Raval held it together until he reached 80, then got himself out. There was a steady succession of wickets falling throughout the day, and they weren't advancing the scoreboard to compensate. It was a worst of both worlds situation, and inevitably, the final wicket fell with the Black Caps having amassed a lead of just 80 runs. The Proteas came in to bat at the end of the day, and despite losing a couple of wickets, and having to request an extra 8 overs to finish the job off, they made pretty short work of it in the end, to lead the series 1-0 after two games played.

There's one more test, which New Zealand must win to square the series. Hopefully some of their injured players will be back to perform in that, and maybe Williamson can score some actual runs next time.

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