Black Caps let day slip away in final session
MARK GEENTY IN PORT ELIZABETH
South African batsman AB de Villiers praised New Zealand's bowlers but you get the feeling he believes this second test is only heading one way.
De Villiers, who scored 51, was one of four South Africans to top the half-century on day one as the hosts posted 325-4, led by Hashim Amla's 19th test century.
It leaves New Zealand teetering on the brink as they try to recover from 1-0 down in the series, unless their pacemen can produce a big effort in the first session of day two.
De Villiers wouldn't nominate what he thought was a winning first innings total.
"We haven't thought of that. We just want to bat as long as possible. We believe if we bat them out of the game in the first innings that will put a lot of pressure on them," he said.
"We know we've got a world-class bowling attack and we can put a bit of heat on them early on. They've got a lot of things to think about if we go 500-plus. They've got the follow-on and a lot of other stuff to think about."
De Villiers said New Zealand's pacemen Doug Bracewell (2-70), Trent Boult (0-74) and Neil Wagner (1-88) had them under pressure at 137-3 when he arrived at the crease. The ball swung, but de Villiers said the pitch got easier to bat on when he reached 40, then it began to offer turn for spinner Jeetan Patel.
"They bowled really well most of the day. They didn't bowl very well the whole day and the wicket flattened out. It wasn't a flawless effort from them, and either from us. I thought we dominated more often than them which probably gives us a tick at the end of the day and leaves us in a strong position," de Villiers said.
"The guys seem to have controlled that new ball quite well so hopefully in the morning it won't do too much and if we get another partnership going I think New Zealand will be in trouble."
New Zealand paceman Wagner, playing against his former Pretoria schoolmates de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, was disappointed at their final session after he toiled through 22 overs.
"It was a pretty tough day and some tough toil on a wicket that was pretty slow. It wasn't really offering a lot. After lunch we came back and bowled pretty well and got ourselves back in the game but let it slip towards the end," Wagner said.
"It just shows against a good side you've got to be patient and create more opportunities by stringing a lot more balls together in an area for a period of time."
But with nothing to lose, Wagner hoped one final push in the first session could keep them in the test, with the second new ball only 10 overs old.
"You're never out of it and the game's never over. We've got to fight back tomorrow and be ruthless. If we come back and get a couple of quick wickets it gets us back into it.
"With the slow nature of the wicket, if our batters can do a good job and get us into the game again then it all evens up. It's a matter of being really tight tomorrow. If we don't, that's when a strong team like South Africa will really capitalise."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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