South Africa vs New Zealand: 3rd Test, 5 Talking Points

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 29:  Ground staff supervised by reserve umpire Chris Brown (top) adjust the covers as rain delays the start of day five of the Test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Seddon Park on March 29, 2017 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
New Zealand did not get a chance to bowl out South Africa on day 5 due to rain

Rain played spoilsport in New Zealand's attempt to level the series on day 5 of the final Test having had the visitors on the mat at 80/5 at stumps on Day 4. Not a single ball was bowled in Seddon Park on Day 5 as the visitors won the series 1-0 with two Tests drawn.

South Africa have so often dug themselves out of even more difficult situations that a New Zealand win wasn't certain even if the game had proceeded. Quinton de Kock has been the architect of most of those comebacks in recent times and he was unbeaten at the crease when the day ended yesterday.

Also Read: Relieved Du Plessis bemoans poor Proteas batting in New Zealand

New Zealand will, however, take a lot of positives from the series and this match in particular. They competed extremely well in the final Test in spite of the absence of Ross Taylor, Trent Boult and Tim Southee, three players considered vital to Black Caps' Test squad. But a Test win against South Africa remains a distant memory, the last one coming 13 long years back.

"They dominated this Test match and deserved to have a crack at us today. It's a real fair assessment to say we've been saved by the rain," Proteas skipper, Faf du Plessis commented in the following press conference.

Brief Scores: South Africa 314/10 (de Kock 90, du Plessis 53, Henry 4/93) and 80/5 (Amla 19, Patel 2/22) drew with New Zealand 489/10 (Williamson 176, Raval 88, Morkel 4/100)

Here are the talking points from the third and final Test at Hamilton.


#5 Kane Williamson asserts himself as skipper

There was no doubting the ability of Kane Williamson, the batsman. The Black Caps skipper is rightly spoken about in the same wavelength as Steven Smith, Joe Root and Virat Kohli. He has shown a penchant for scoring big and taking his opportunities but Williamson, the skipper, was still in his infancy stage before the series.

When clubbed against Faf du Plessis (anointed even later than Williamson), carrying a terrific series win in Australia on his back, Williamson was still new, raw and untested. He had come a cropper in tough conditions in India but so have most captains in that land. South Africa was his real Test.

While New Zealand performed below their abilities in the first two Tests, in the final Test, without some key players, Williamson led his troops admirably and arguably played the best innings of New Zealand's home summer. It was unfortunate that he did not get a chance to bowl at South Africa on the final day.

#4 Jeetan Patel vs Mitchell Santner

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 28:  Mitchell Santner of New Zealand bats during day four of the Test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Seddon Park on March 28, 2017 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
Santner has not quite lived up to his reputation as an all-rounder in Tests

The Patel-Santner debate has no end. While three months back, Santner was deemed good enough to be the primary spinner for a series of India, Jeetan Patel has suddenly stepped up and shown some serious skills to come back into the reckoning.

While age is a factor in considering Santner ahead of Patel, the latter has put up a real fine display in recent times. Meanwhile, Santner has been patchy with the bat - batting is one reason he is in ahead of Patel - and mediocre with the ball.

There is no doubting that the future lies with Santner but Patel seems to be enjoying a rather late golden period, and it would be a harsh call to drop him after his recent performances for the New Zealand Test side. Given his experience in England conditions and recent exploits in the ODIs, a Champions Trophy in June does not seem far fetched.

#3 Will Stephen Cook make it to England?

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 18:  Stephen Cook of South Africa bats during day three of the test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Basin Reserve on March 18, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Stephen Cook is on slippery waters at the moment

Stephen Cook has been edgy at best in his thus far short Test career. While he scored some hundreds in tough conditions in Australia and later at home against Lanka, his vulnerability outside the off-stump made him a suspect candidate.

His poor returns in New Zealand, a highest of 11 in 4 innings meant that he was dropped for the final Test but the replacement, a middle-order batsman pushed to the top, did not fare much better.

An experienced opener in first-class cricket, Cook has struggled to live upto international standards and the moving ball has caused his downfall far too many times to make him a convincing top order option. However, given Cook's experience in England and that he was rewarded a central contract a few weeks back, he should make the England trip.

#2 Jeet Raval a sound option for Kiwis

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 26:  Jeet Raval of New Zealand bats during day two of the Test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Seddon Park on March 26, 2017 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
Raval has been a glue at the top of the order for the hosts

New Zealand have one less worry at the top of the order after this series given the way Jeet Raval has handled the hot South African pace attack. He has shown maturity and composure way beyond his years and looks set to open for the Black Caps for a long, long time.

The southpaw has been solid in defence and has left deliveries with the confidence of an experienced batsman. Raval has filled up for Latham's lack of form and has revelled in partnerships with his skipper, the 190, in the final Test a standout example.

Although 5 half-centuries in 12 innings is a pretty good return in New Zealand conditions, Raval may need to improve on his conversion rate. A maiden hundred was there for the taking in Hamilton but he threw it away on 88. However, the Kiwis know that they have a polished gem at the top.

#1 JP Duminy a serious concern

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 17:  JP Duminy of South Africa leaves the field after being dismissed during day two of the test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Basin Reserve on March 17, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Duminy's continued selection is baffling given his meagre returns

JP Duminy is probably the luckiest player in the South African side. Despite almost 13 years of experience in international cricket, the spin bowling all-rounder has not established himself in the side but the selectors have almost always stood by him.

While his talent is never in question, his consistency or lack of it is a serious concern given the quality of the bowlers he might be facing in June in England. He is still vulnerable against short pitch bowling and off-spin. Moreover, his off-spin bowling has not been used much by South Africa.

An analysis into Duminy's Test career shows that the southpaw has never scored more than 419 runs in a calendar year in Tests, a shocking stat for someone asked to bat in place of AB de Villiers at No. 4 in the Test line-up.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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