NZ's top-order fails, follow-on looms
Here we go again. The scars of Cape Town were reopened on a peaceful Saturday at St George's Park, and this was even worse.
That's saying something after New Zealand were dismissed for 45 in the first cricket test. This time, after nearly a week of preparation, the batsmen dismally failed another searching South African exam to leave them plunging towards a 2-0 test series defeat.
At stumps on the second day of the second test, New Zealand were 47-6 in reply to South Africa's first innings of 525-8 declared, which included three centurions - Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar.
With BJ Watling the current topscorer, 15 not out, alongside Doug Bracewell (3), New Zealand resume later tonight (NZ time) with another 278 required just to avoid the follow-on. Avoiding defeat inside three days will be some effort from here, before this sorry mismatch comes to an end.
After an encouraging second innings at Newlands and several days of torrid, bouncey net sessions, we had every right to expect more from New Zealand's batsmen.
But they are clearly not in the right mental state, for whatever reason. It was a brutal 24-over test of their skill. The 145kmh pace of world No 1 test bowler Dale Steyn, backed by Morne Morkel, was too much, then big Rory Kleinveldt's bounce and swing compounded the issue.
They were too good, too fast and too accurate for the New Zealanders whose techniques and composure were found wanting again.
Facing a huge first innings total, New Zealand needed a safe start but struggling opener Martin Guptill wasn't the right man to provide it.
Dropped fourth ball by Jacques Kallis, he lasted another seven before driving at Steyn and edging to third slip. The delivery nipped away but it wasn't one to go hard at. With two runs from his last three innings, and a run of low scores before that, Guptill's test form is a serious worry.
That started the ball rolling at high speed.
Kane Williamson (4) was struck a painful blow on the ribs by Morkel then nibbled at one he shouldn't have from Steyn.
Then the imposing figure of Kleinveldt showed he was a worthy replacement for the injured Vernon Philander. He bowled a brute to Dean Brownlie (10) which brushed his glove, then trapped Daniel Flynn in front with an inswinger.
Captain Brendon McCullum watched all this from the other end and lasted 97 minutes and 61 balls in what looked a promising rescue mission.
But Robin Peterson's docile spin undid McCullum (13) as he unleashed a loose drive at the worst time, in sight of stumps. It exposed debutant Colin Munro and he lasted just one delivery which turned, and he bat-padded to short leg.
Bracewell survived the hat-trick ball, and somehow to stumps as Watling at least stood firm.
Aside from a reasonable period in the first hour of day two, New Zealand's bowlers were largely chasing leather. Bracewell (3-94) was the pick but he and the other pacemen weren't fast enough to continually trouble the batsmen and exploit some variable bounce.
There was some hope for the tourists when Trent Boult removed Amla for 110, nicked down the leg side at 336-5, but that's where it ended.
Du Plessis had received a big let-off on 42 when the New Zealanders didn't challenge a not out decision from umpire Ian Gould when hot spot replays showed he'd gloved a Boult delivery. He made them pay and moved to 99 at lunch, then raised his second test century with a six off spinner Jeetan Patel. Du Plessis added 113 with Amla and 131 with Elgar before he skied a pull shot off part-timer Munro.
Elgar, who began with a pair on test debut in Perth, went after Patel and after he got set, it was all about when he would raise three figures as the bowlers tired.
South African skipper Graeme Smith seemed in no hurry. His bowlers had comfortably enough time.
The declaration was delayed and the wait was interminable until Elgar finally raised an unbeaten century off 170 balls, just after tea.
Munro did a handy job as fourth seamer, taking 2-40 while Patel got some prodigious early turn but wasn't a regular threat as he wheeled down 36.5 overs, taking 1-134.
Neil Wagner, in his first test against his country of birth, was the most expensive with 1-135 off 33.
Scoreboard at stumps on the second day of the second Test between South Africa and New Zealand at Port Elizabeth:
A PETERSEN c Patel b Bracewell 21|
G SMITH c Watling b Wagner 54
H AMLA c Watling b Boult 110
J KALLIS c Watling b Bracewell 8
AB de VILLIERS c Williamson b Patel 51
F DU PLESSIS c McCullum b Munro 137
D ELGAR not out 103
R PETERSON c Patel b Munro 8
D STEYN c Patel b Bracewell 5
R KLEINVELDT not out 7
Extras (6b 8lb 3nb 4w) 21
Total (for eight wickets (dec)) 525
Fall: 29 (Petersen), 121 (Smith), 137 (Kallis), 223 (de Villiers), 336 (Amla), 467 (Plessis), 481 (Peterson), 508 (Steyn).
Bowling: T Boult 32-5-108-1 (2w), D Bracewell 34-6-94-3 (1w), N Wagner 33-4-135-1 (1w 3nb), J Patel 36.5-2-134-1, C Munro 18-4-40-2.
M GUPTILL c Petersen b Steyn 1
B McCULLUM c Kallis b Peterson 13
K WILLIAMSON c Smith b Steyn 4
D BROWNLIE c de Villiers b Kleinveldt 10
D FLYNN lbw Kleinveldt 0
B WATLING not out 15
C MUNRO c Elgar b Peterson 0
D BRACEWELL not out 3
Extras (1lb) 1
Total (for six wickets) 47
Fall: 2 (Guptill), 8 (Williamson), 27 (Brownlie), 27 (Flynn), 39 (McCullum), 39 (Munro).
Bowling: D Steyn 8-2-14-2, M Morkel 8-4-12-0, R Kleinveldt 6-1-18-2, R Peterson 2-1-2-2.