Reel­ing SA praise ‘fab­u­lous’ Wil­liamson

New Straits Times - - Sport -

HAMIL­TON: South Africa paid homage to a “fab­u­lous” Kane Wil­liamson yes­ter­day af­ter the New Zealand cap­tain’s 176 left the Proteas on the ropes with a day to play in the de­cid­ing fi­nal Test in Hamil­ton.

“We’ve got a moun­tain to climb,” as­sis­tant coach Adrian Bir­rell said af­ter South Africa were re­duced to 80 for five at stumps on day four, 95 runs short of mak­ing New Zealand bat again.

“Kane Wil­liamson’s in­nings was a fab­u­lous in­nings and you’ve got to some­times doff your cap to a good player.”

With Colin de Grand­homme also fir­ing with the bat with a quick­fire 57, New Zealand started the day seven runs ahead and added 168 be­fore they were all out for 489.

De Grand­homme then ig­nited the as­sault on the South African top or­der in the sixth over when he re­moved Dean El­gar for five and later took a smart catch to dis­miss Hashim Amla for 19.

Thei­nus de Bruyn was run out for 12 in a bizarre mid-pitch col­li­sion when he was ball-watch­ing and veered into Amla, leav­ing the bats­men sprawled on the ground.

Bir­rell said the Proteas’ bat­ting may­hem was part of the flow-on ef­fect from Wil­liamson’s marathon in­nings.

“One hun­dred and sixty two overs is a long time to be in the field and it was a hard day. Play­ers are fa­tigued and to bat on the back of that is al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult.” he said.

“Once they got ahead of us by 100 runs it was al­ways go­ing to be a sur­vival match.”

Faf du Plessis and Quin­ton de Kock were both 15 not out at stumps. Bir­rell said they were look­ing for de Kock, who set up their eight wicket win in the Se­cond Test to go 1-0 up in the se­ries, to go on the at­tack when play re­sumes.

“If he goes into a de­fen­sive mode it’s prob­a­bly the worst thing for him, so we look for him to score. Ninety-five runs, we start get­ting the pos­i­tive, and ev­ery run in the pos­i­tive is one they have to get and is time wasted.”

The Zim­babwe-born de Grand­homme was not re­quired for the First Test when El­gar scored 140 and 89 but in four in­nings since then he has re­moved the opener for scores of nine, 17, five and five.

The loss of El­gar should have sig­nalled to South Africa it was time to dig in but in­stead wick­ets fell at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

Af­ter the de Bruyn run out for 12, Amla pro­gressed from eight to 19 when he edged a ball from Jee­tan Pa­tel which re­bounded off Watling’s glove to the sole slip de Grand­homme.

Pa­tel also bowled JP Du­miny (13) and Matt Henry had Temba Bavuma caught be­hind for one to leave South Africa 59 for five, be­fore du Plessis and de Kock sur­vived 12 overs to stumps.

Should New Zealand level the se­ries it will be a re­mark­able turn­around from the eight-wicket, three-day hid­ing they suf­fered in the Se­cond Test.

It would also have been achieved with­out in­jured strike bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee as well as se­nior bats­man Ross Tay­lor. AFP

Kane Wil­liamson’s in­nings was a fab­u­lous in­nings and you’ve got to some­times doff your cap to a good player.

ADRIAN BIR­RELL

SA as­sis­tant coach

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