Black Caps crumble to defeat, miss out on history

Publish Date
Tuesday, 1 March 2022, 6:00PM
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By Niall Anderson

A blown opportunity for a first test series victory over South Africa and a World Test Championship title defence in tatters – this has not been a good summer for the Black Caps.

The Black Caps fell to a 198-run defeat to the Proteas in the second test at Hagley Oval, tying the series 1-1 and continuing New Zealand's 90-year wait to conquer South Africa in a test series.

It was a wait that looked like it would end after they handed South Africa one of their heaviest test defeats at the same venue the week prior, but the consistency that was such a hallmark of the Black Caps' World Test Championship triumph has disappeared.

After going 17 tests without defeat at home, the Black Caps have now lost two of their last four - to a Bangladesh side that had never won in 32 matches across all formats in New Zealand, and now a South African side that, while capable, don't hold a candle to past Proteas squads that have toured Aotearoa.

All this means the Black Caps now sit in a distant sixth on the World Test Championship table, with three away tests in England, two away against Pakistan and two at home to Sri Lanka still to come. Record-breaking feats in the five away tests are required to keep any hope alive of another appearance in the final.

This particular defeat was in the script since day four, when South Africa batted the Black Caps out of the test, then took four wickets before stumps to leave a salvage job required for New Zealand to claim a draw on the final day.

Devon Conway and Tom Blundell briefly raised hopes, with an 85-run partnership more importantly soaking up 174 balls as the Black Caps batted for an hour and a half with few troubles, but Conway fell before lunch for 92, trapped lbw by Lutho Sipalma, and that signalled the end.

Blundell battled on to the interval, ticking runs over merely to keep the South African bowlers and fielders honest, but on 44 he played a needlessly loose pull to Marco Jansen and the leading edge was easily taken at midwicket.

The short-ball approach worked a treat for the visitors, with the Black Caps unable to resist swinging. Colin de Grandhomme slapped Jansen straight to leg gully where Wiaan Mulder took a sharp catch, mostly in self-defence to avoid a bruised throat, and Kyle Jamieson showed no interest in resistance, slogging Jansen to the fielder in the deep.

Once they fell, it was only a matter of time, and Tim Southee, who had been remarkably watchful to reach two off 29 balls, swung a few lofty blows before departing. A brief spurt of rain threatened to steal an undeserved draw with New Zealand nine down, but nine balls after they returned from tea, Matt Henry was trapped lbw by Keshav Maharaj.

An unsuccessful review meant the test was over, and so too might be New Zealand's tenure as a dominant test side.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission