Wellington - South African captain Faf du Plessis hailed an
"impossible" victory after the Proteas recovered from a desperate
situation to win the second Test against New Zealand by eight wickets in
Wellington on Saturday.
Keshav Maharaj took a career best six wickets as New Zealand
crumpled in their second innings and needed just 25 overs to reach the modest 81
Just five sessions after South Africa were on the ropes they
found themselves with an unbeatable 1-0 lead in the series with one Test to
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson branded the change in
fortunes and his side's second innings capitulation when they were out for 171,
as a "very, very poor" effort.
But du Plessis said the result was testimony to the
determination of the South Africans.
"It's happened a few times this season where we've been
in impossible situations," he said.
"At lunch-time yesterday, 90 for six, it's not too long
ago, and here we are.
"We've somehow found this ability to have a lot of
faith in our batting line up or whatever, for guys in the team to stand up when
there's a pressure situation."
From being 94 for six before lunch on Friday, South Africa
rallied to be all out for 359 to take a 91-run lead into the second innings.
On a flattening track and with nearly three days remaining,
there was time for New Zealand to mount a strong comeback.
Instead their second innings was done in 63.2 overs with a
career best 80 by Jeet Raval and a 65-run partnership between Raval and BJ
Watling (29) the only sign of resistance.
Raval's dismissal signalled the beginning of the end as the
last five wickets fell for 16 runs.
Faced with the guile of Maharaj's left-arm spin and the seam
and bounce of Morne Morkel New Zealand struggled through their second innings.
Maharaj finished with six for 40, the best figures and
second five-wicket haul in his fledgling six-Test career while Morkel took the
top off the New Zealand innings, including the key wicket of Kane Williamson,
to have three for 50.
Du Plessis admitted to being "surprised" because
there was not a lot of spin in the wicket.
"I thought both spinners this Test match bowled
incredibly well. Their consistency in their areas, the New Zealand batsmen
couldn't get way."
New Zealand said before the Test they did not particularly
want a green wicket given the high quality of the South African pace attack.
But it was the South African spinners who did serious
damage, claiming six wickets in each innings with Maharaj having match figures
of eight for 87.
Williamson said that was disappointing and something New
Zealand needed to address.
"We have to do a lot better," he said.
"It wasn't offering a huge amount of spin so it is
something as a batting unit we're disappointed in."
Morkel removed Tom Latham, Williamson and Neil Broom to have
New Zealand at three for 64 early in their second innings.
Once Williamson fell for one, New Zealand needed the
remaining batsmen to step up but instead Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls and Jimmy
Neesham could only add 31 in total before BJ Watling joined Raval to halt the
flow of wickets.
On 53, Raval was dropped by JP Duminy in the gully and on 67
he charged down the wicket to Duminy and missed the ball, but so too did
wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock when a stumping was on the cards.
De Kock made amends the next time Raval danced down the
wicket and completed the stumping for Maharaj's third wicket.
The third and final Test starts in Hamilton next Saturday.