New Zealand win despite defiant Rudolph
New Zealand 595 and 53 for 1 beat South Africa 296 and 349 (Rudolph 154*, Martin 5-104) by 9 wickets
Everything fell into place for New Zealand on the final day of the second Test at Auckland. They registered their first victory over South Africa at home, and will now travel to Wellington with an excellent chance to win a series against them for the first time.
Chris Martin picked up his second five-wicket haul of the match, Chris Cairns got to 200 Test wickets, and South Africa were bowled out for 349. Jacques Rudolph delighted with a few flowing drives on his way to an unbeaten 154, but New Zealand were left to chase a meagre 51. Stephen Fleming ensured a quick finish, blasting 31 off just 11 balls.
The day began with South Africa still 22 behind, and Shaun Pollock did exactly what Mark Boucher had done last evening: needlessly poked at one that angled away, and edged to Fleming at first slip (290 for 7). Nicky Boje hung around for 56 minutes, while Rudolph unfurled a few silken drives at the other end. Boje has been a thorn in the flesh for New Zealand in the past, with two one-day hundreds, but Cairns forced him onto the back foot and managed to find the outside edge (327 for 8). With this, Cairns became the second New Zealander after Richard Hadlee to complete the double of 3000 runs and 200 wickets.
Cairns then undid Nos. 10 and 11 with two well-disguised slower balls: Makhaya Ntini spanked one down square leg's throat, while David Terbrugge patted another straight to short cover.
The New Zealand openers began their chase with a few streaky shots, as the South African bowlers attacked with a barrage of short balls. Mark Richardson was hit on a few occasions and was dismissed after making 10. He ducked a short one from Ntini, but the ricochet off the back of the bat went to Boje at gully (20 for 1). However, Fleming uncorked the champagne with six fours and it was fitting that he sealed the victory with a straight six.
After all, it was Fleming who had inserted South Africa on the first morning, and watched Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs put together a first-wicket stand of 177. But New Zealand dominated every session after that, and Cairns and Jacob Oram were brutal in the final session on the third day. Martin's two crucial spells, when he ripped through the South African middle order, turned the tide, and he will be expected to play a major role in seamer-friendly conditions at the Basin Reserve.
For South Africa, Rudolph showed tremendous composure in the second innings while Jacques Kallis, Gibbs and Smith were all in good touch. But it was their bowling that let them down, and the game was surrendered on the run-filled third day.
One moment in the final stages encapsulated South Africa's helplessness in the match. Richardson defended one back back to the bowler and Pollock picked it up and threw it back instinctively. When Richardson got his pads in the way, Pollock let out a huge appeal for lbw. At least, he saw some humour at the end of it all.