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The Wisden Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
March 19, 2004
New Zealand 201 for 3 (Styris 118*) trail South Africa 296 (Smith 88, Gibbs 80, Martin 6-76) by 95 runs
Chris Martin's medium-pace caused a South African collapse in the morning, then Scott Styris hammered a breezy hundred as New Zealand fought back strongly on the second day at Auckland. Having restricted South Africa to 296, New Zealand were in a dicey position at 12 for 2, but Styris defied the bowlers with an aggressive 118, and by the end of the day his side were only 95 behind.
Styris didn't hold back, even when Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini moved the ball around. He attacked David Terbrugge with shots all around the wicket, and blasted Nicky Boje out of the attack. As his innings progressed, the bowling lost its sheen. Even Pollock, after a fine first spell, sprayed it around in his second stint as the score rolled along. Styris and Craig McMillan stepped on the pedal as the day wore on: they put on 64 in just 11.3 overs.
In an attempt to make the most of the overcast conditions, the South African bowlers pitched the ball up to the bat, and Styris capitalised, creaming the half-volleys neatly. He also used the angles of the oddly shaped Eden Park ground shrewdly. Flicks and glides raced away, and some of his cover-drives were gorgeous. He bludgeoned Boje for a huge six, and brought up his third Test century with a majestic cover-drive. He had some good support, too. Mark Richardson made a patient 45, and McMillan (31 not out) joined in with bubbly enthusiasm. Richardson, though, threw it away as he slashed at a wide one from Kallis, and Herschelle Gibbs pouched the straightforward chance (137 for 3).
Styris put New Zealand in control but it was Martin who had begun the rescue job. He deceived Jacques Kallis with a crafty legcutter - Kallis departed for 40, his quest for that record-equalling sixth century in as many Tests postponed to the second innings - lured Jacques Rudolph into a booming drive, baited Mark Boucher and Neil McKenzie into uppish drives, and polished Ntini off for a second-ball duck. Add Grame Smith's wicket, which he snared yesterday, and his fine exhibition of swing and seam bowling was rewarded with 6 for 76. All that came after spraying it around on the first morning and being collared by Gibbs and Smith.
Rudolph fell in the third over of the day, trying to wallop a full-pitched one. The edge flew to Michael Papps at third slip (235 for 3). Kirsten, playing in his 100th Test, made just 1 before Jacob Oram sneaked one through the gate - the ball cut in a shade after pitching and clipped the top of off stump (236 for 4).
But the big one came in the next over. Martin bowled a few good incutters to Kallis, before delivering one that held its line. Kallis played inside the line of the ball and the edge was acrobatically collected by Brendon McCullum (240 for 5).
Boucher swished at a wide one while Pollock missed a straight ball that kept a shade low (273 for 7). But Martin wasn't finished yet, and he completed the turnaround by nailing McKenzie and Ntini, before South Africa were finally all out for 296. Only 65 had been added to the overnight total, and South Africa had lost 10 wickets for 119 runs. This was partly due to the overcast conditions, but was mainly down to the complete change in the New Zealand bowlers' discipline.
South Africa's opening bowlers continued in similar vein. Pollock snapped up his 331st Test wicket, passing Allan Donald to become the highest wicket-taker for his country, with a near-perfect legcutter. Papps had to play at it, and the edge was easily taken at second slip. Stephen Fleming poked at one tentatively and Kallis latched on as the ball was screaming past him (12 for 2).
At that point, ten wickets had fallen in the day. But only one more fell afterwards, and Scott Styris's attacking methods were chiefly responsible for that.
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