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South Africa v New Zealand (3rd Test)
Reports from CricInfo - 18-22 March 1999

CricInfo report

Day 1: Stead-y as she goes for New Zealand

Rick Eyre

For the third time in this Test series New Zealand captain Dion Nash won the toss. And for the third time he appeared to make a bad decision with the toss, this time to bat first. But it was the Canterbury duo of Gary Stead and Chris Harris who rescued New Zealand from an extremely uninspiring pre- lunch performance to end the first day of the Third Test against South Africa on 211 for 6.

As each side made one change from the high-scoring, but rain-affected, Second Test - Shayne O'Connor for Geoff Allott and Steve Elworthy for the injured Allan Donald - the NZ opening pair of Bryan Young and Matthew Horne got proceedings to a slow start in the face of tight bowling from Pollock and Elworthy. Horne's first failure of the series came when Pollock gained some movement off the seam, and found the edge on an attempted forward defensive stroke, caught by Cullinan at slip. Horne made 2, and New Zealand's first wicket fell for seven runs in nine overs.

New Zealand scored 24 runs in the first hour of play, and when Kallis and Klusener replaced Pollock and Elworthy, little changed. Young (18) was removed in the 21st over of the morning nicking a Kallis out-swinger to Jonty Rhodes at third slip. Nathan Astle played some good strokes in reaching the boundary three times before the lunch break, at which stage New Zealand were 50 for 2 - one of the slower sessions witnessed at the Basin Reserve, Wellington for some time.

Astle was dismissed shortly after the break by a superb Elworthy yorker after having scored 20. Gary Stead came to the crease to join Roger Twose with the score 57 for 3. Twose was struck on the elbow by a rising ball from Elworthy, and after getting the magic spray lasted only two more deliveries before getting an edge to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. Nash's win of the toss was now worth 58 runs for the loss of four wickets.

For the second consecutive hour of the innings, New Zealand scored 26 runs from lunch to the drinks break. The Canterbury pair of Stead and Chris Harris began to demonstrate some superiority over the South African bowling which sometimes was excessively short. The batsmen achieved the highest scoring rate of the match to date, 37 for the hour, when players adjourned to tea on 113 for 4.

Stead played some fine boundaries after tea to bring up his maiden Test fifty in his third innings, reached off 103 deliveries with eight fours. The fifth hour of the day saw 54 runs scored and the run-rate rise to around 2.3. Harris, playing the best innings to date of an uninspiring six-year career that has seen him average 17 with the bat in 16 Tests, raised his fifty by pulling a Paul Adams long hop to the midwicket fence. Harris's 50 came from 120 deliveries and included seven boundaries.

The fifth-wicket partnership of 145 came to an end five overs before stumps when Stead when Shaun Pollock took a marvellous diving catch at third slip. Stead was gone for 68 to become Elworthy's third wicket of the day. Daniel Vettori's nightwatchmanly visit to the crease was over before nightfall, a boundary off Elworthy being his only runs before edging the same bowler to Kallis at second slip. Adam Parore batted out the day with Harris - who was in discomfort shortly before the close of play, being sick adjacent to the pitch. Forty-four runs were scored in the last seventeen overs of the day for New Zealand to finish on 211 for 6, a much better score than they perhaps deserved earlier in the day. Harris is unbeaten on 66, five short of his career best in Test matches.

Elworthy was the most successsful of the South African bowlers with 4/58 from 21 overs, though Pollock bowled tightly all day, giving up just thirty runs from his 22 overs for one wicket. While at least 250 should be on the cards for New Zealand in this innings, sooner or later tomorrow they will have to bowl to a batting side that has scored 1307 runs for the loss of 9 wickets in this series so far.

Day 2: Herschelle the Kiwis hoodoo again

Rick Eyre

Herschelle Gibbs continued his amazing run against the New Zealand bowlers at the Basin Reserve, Wellington today. After scoring an unbeaten 211 in the Second Test at Christchurch last weekend, Gibbs is 115 not out at stumps on day two of the Third Test, South Africa well in command on 235 for 2 in reply to New Zealand's 222 all out.

New Zealand collapsed on Friday morning after resuming on 211 for 6. Parore (5) edged Pollock to Cullinan at first slip. Two balls later, Harris (68) lobbed Pollock to Rhodes at gully, after already being dropped once this morning. Simon Doull, who must surely have been close to being timed out before he came out to bat, lasted just three balls without scoring, edging Pollock to Boucher behind the stumps.

Pollock claimed his fourth victim of the morning when captain Dion Nash (2) fended off his pads to Paul Adams at short-leg. New Zealand's collapse, beginning late Thursday, yielded 6 wickets for 19 runs off 17.3 overs. Pollock's 5/33 was his ninth five-wicket haul in his 33rd Test.

Gibbs and Kirsten opened quietly in the face of the new-ball partnership of Shayne O'Connor and Simon Doull. Kirsten was lucky to survive when on 11, he edged a ball low to Bryan Young at third slip. Third umpire Brett Bowden's expertise was called, and despite replays appearing to show an obvious catch, the green light was displayed. South Africa went to lunch on 24 for 0, a mere 35 runs scored by both sides before in the session.

On 40, and just seven short of Bruce Mitchell's all-time South African record of 3471 Test runs, Kirsten chopped a ball from O'Connor onto his stumps. The opening stand was worth 73, Kirsten's 40 coming from 75 balls with seven boundaries. It will be interesting to see whether he gets one last opportunity in this Test series to break Mitchell's record.

Kallis scored 17 before becoming Nash's first wicket of the series, caught hooking a short ball to Matthew Horne at long leg. His dismissal at 105 for 2 was the last wicket of the day. Soon after, Gibbs brought up his fifty off 109 deliveries. A livelier second session of the day with the bat saw 99 runs scored between lunch and tea.

Gibbs and Cullinan dominated the NZ bowling after tea, and the Western Province opener raised his second century in consecutive innings with a quick single off the bowling of Chris Harris. Gibbs' 100 came off 191 balls with fourteen boundaries. Earlier Cullinan passed 2000 career Test runs when on 45. South Africa levelled the scores in 68 overs, and by the end of the day had advanced the score to 235 for 2, a lead of 13. Gibbs, unbeaten on 115, has scored 326 runs without dismissal. Cullinan is on 56, just 219 runs short of his highest score of the innings.

Yet again the South African team look far superior to New Zealand in this Test series. Unlike Christchurch, there is less chance of the weather saving the Black Caps this time.

Day 3: A player of Cullers - South Africa's domination continues

Rick Eyre

Daryll Cullinan continued his domination of New Zealand bowling today, as the Third Test slipped decisively out of the home side's reach. At stumps on the third day at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, South Africa were 498 for 8 in their first innings, a lead of 276 over New Zealand. Cullinan scored 152 to add to the 275 not out made in the First Test.

South Africa began play Saturday on 235 for 2. Herschelle Gibbs' second consecutive Test century came to end early when he attempted a sweep at a Vettori delivery wide of leg-stump, lofting it to Shayne O'Connor at long leg. Gibbs completed 120 to follow from his 211 not out last week. A success for Dion Nash in delaying the taking of the new ball until the 88th over.

Cullinan played some fine shots in the morning session and brought up his eighth Test century with two consecutive boundaries off Nash. Like Gibbs he scored his second consecutive Test century, the first of which was a double. Cullers' 100 came from 175 deliveries and included fifteen boundaries.

An ineffective new ball saw Vettori brought back in the attack 13 overs after the change, but Cullinan and Cronje dominated the pre-lunch session, South Africa going into the break at 345 for 3, at 110 runs scored easily the most prolific session of the match to date.

Cullinan's infamous weakness against the leg-spin of Shane Warne does not translate into any fear of that other leg spinner Christopher Zinzan Harris, smashed for a six and two fours by the South African in his brief spell. Cullinan's 150 came up from his 264th ball of the innings.

Nathan Astle was brought into the bowling attack and immediately put the brakes on the run scoring of Cullinan and Cronje, who was in hot pursuit of both Gary Kirsten and Bruce Mitchell's career run aggregates. Astle made the breakthrough when Cullinan smashed the ball back to him, taking a smart return catch. Cullinan was gone for 152, his series return being 427 runs for once out. His partnership with Cronje was worth 145 for the fourth wicket.

With shock bowler Astle quickly removed from the attack, the next wicket fell when Cronje danced down the pitch to loft Vettori to Nash at mid-on. Cronje's 72 gives him a career aggregate of 3465, one more than Kirsten but six less than Mitchell's all-time South African record. Maybe he was trying to claim the record in one hit.

Vettori continued his fine spell by removing Jonty Rhodes for 3, lobbing a mistimed sweep to Bryan Young. At tea South Africa were 422 for 6, just 77 runs in the session and an unusually fruitful three-wickets for NZ.

After Astle and Vettori applied the brakes again, Boucher was dismissed immediately following an interruption for some on-field treatment for Young. Boucher played all over the top of a ball from left-arm spinner Vettori turning from leg stump.

Klusener made 19 before getting a faint edge from Nash to Parore. Steve Elworthy came to crease to end the day on 3. Shaun Pollock, surely the world's finest all-rounder today, has played a fine innings to be unbeaten on 43.

For New Zealand, Vettori has bowled a total of 54 overs so far in the innings, taking 4/153. He had one 21-over spell spanning the tea break. Astle took 1/21 from sixteen overs, but the remaining bowlers have toiled.

Two days remaining and an overnight declaration by Cronje is a prospect, South Africa possibly looking to clean up the match and the series tomorrow. With daylight savings ending in New Zealand tonight the start of play, while still 10.30am locally, is now 2230GMT Saturday night.

Day 4: New Zealand live to fight one more day

Rick Eyre

New Zealand's struggle to avoid innings defeat and series loss against South Africa will extend into the fifth and final day at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, tomorrow. At stumps on Sunday, New Zealand need 59 more runs to make South Africa bat again, with three wickets in hand.

As expected, Hansie Cronje declared overnight with the score on 498 for 8, a lead of 276. An early finish looked possible as New Zealand lost their first three wickets within twelve overs of the start of play. Young (2) was caught behind trying unsuccessfully to fend a superb rising ball from Pollock. Twose (5) skied a hook shot off Elworthy straight to Pollock at fine leg. Horne, who had played a lively knock for his 27, was beaten later in the same over by a ball moving in off the seam and trapping him lbw. New Zealand 35 for 3.

A chancy partnership between Nathan Astle and Gary Stead ended with the score on 100. Stead was caught plumb lbw as Elworthy gained more movement. Stead had scored 35.

Astle brought up his 50 from 109 deliveries, a shaky innings despite some attractive boundaries. With Chris Harris joining Astle at the crease after Stead's dismissal, tight bowling saw just 71 runs scored between lunch and tea.

Elworthy exploited movement off the seam yet again in bowling Astle (62) shortly after the tea break. With Adams and Kallis tightening the screws, Parore fell for 19 to a brilliant bat-pad catch by Jonty Rhodes of the left- arm spinner. Adams clean bowled Harris in his next over. Harris' 41 included four fours, one six off Elworthy, and a five which included four overthrows.

Nash (4*) and Vettori (12*) played out the rest of the day, bad light ending play one over earlier than scheduled, the end of daylight savings last night meaning that sunset is arriving one hour earlier, the floodlights at the Basin Reserve not being strong enough to alleviate the fading light.

Steve Elworthy (4/66 and 4/58) is making the most of the absence of Allan Donald in this match, the prospect of a ten-wicket game still alive. Elworthy was able to take advantage of his height, Nathan Astle saying in the evening press conference that Elworthy was releasing the ball from above the line of the sightscreen.

The main threat to a South African victory is the weather, with rain forecast for tomorrow. New Zealand's ability to remain at the crease till stumps today may prove valuable.

Day 5: South Africa wrap the series

Rick Eyre

South Africa sealed the three-Test series against New Zealand today in the Third and final Test at the Basin Reserve, Wellington. It took 24 overs to complete the match today, the New Zealand tail doing enough to force the South African team to bat again, and then lose two wickets before claiming victory.

Resuming on 217 for 7, New Zealand added 74 runs for finally being dismissed with a lead of fifteen on 291. Vettori was out for 16, leaving enough daylight between bat and pad for Pollock to disturb the stumps. Simon Doull attacked the bowling of Paul Adams, but the South African spinner took the next wicket as Dion Nash (27) top-edged a sweep to Boucher down the leg side. The innings ended when Shayne O'Connor (2) nudged off his pads to Jonty Rhodes to become Adams' fourth victim of the innings. Steve Elworthy was unable to add to his overnight tally of four wickets, eight for the match. Simon Doull conrtibuted a whirlwind cameo of 38 not out from 33 balls (6 fours, 1 six).

South Africa were left with sixteen runs for victory. The question: would Gary Kirsten score the eight runs to become South Africa's all-time run scorer? The answer: yes. Kirsten broke Bruce Mitchell's 50 year-old record of 3471 with a drive off O'Connor to the extra cover boundary.

Herschelle Gibbs' triumphant series ended in subdued fashion. After 21 balls without scoring, he was run out taking a single. Kirsten said no, Gibbs said yes. A relayed effort from Horne, Vettori and Harris did the rest. With six needed for victory, Jacques Kallis lofted a straight drive over Vettori's head which bounced inside the fence for four. Next ball, he was clean bowled attempting the big finish. Kirsten took two off O'Connor to finish the match and the series in the ninth over of the innings.

With no Man of the Series award up for grabs, Elworthy claimed Man of the Match for his eight wickets in the only Test to end in a result, South Africa completely outplaying in this series a New Zealand side weakened by the absence of Stephen Fleming and Chris Cairns.

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