New Zealand v South Africa, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 2nd day March 16, 2012

To leave or not to leave, that is Philander's question

ESPNcricinfo presents Plays of the Day for the second day of the second Test between New Zealand and South Africa in Hamilton

Third-time-lucky moment of the day
Alviro Petersen broke a 21-ball run-less drought with a beautifully timed pull to square leg only for the ball to get a good wash in overnight dew. New Zealand's bowlers were unhappy with the conditions of it and before the end of that over asked the umpires to have a look at it. Neither official felt it was serious enough damage for the ball to be changed. Mid-way through the next over, a committee made up of Chris Martin, Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori all examined the ball for a few moments, hoping to convince the umpires that it was more than just a passing concern. Only two overs later, when Brent Arnel was brought into the attack and Petersen sliced a ball past gully, presumably for it to land in more damp, and the fourth umpire was asked to bring on a different ball this time.

Wicket-less over of the day
On most days, such a headline would apply to most of the overs in the day, but in Mark Gillespie's case it was unusual because his first four overs of the day contained a wicket each. His fifth one would also have yielded a scalp had Ross Taylor put a third slip in place for Gillespie's movement away from the right-hander. He pitched one on off and got de Villiers to poke at it. The outside edge would have settled into a third slip's hands but instead raced through the vacant area for four.

Leave of the day
Vernon Philander arrived at the crease with something of a reputation for being an allrounder, after Ross Taylor said he is probably a better batsman that his Test average reveals. He showed the technique for it, too. The first ball he faced from Mark Gillespie was one that moved just a fraction away and while, in hindsight, good judgement had resulted in him leaving the ball, at the time it looked a risky thing to do. The ball danced dangerously close to his offstump as Philander shouldered arms to the oohs and aaahs of the fielding side. The next time Philander left it was to Doug Bracewell and it resulted in him losing his offstump.

Clash of the day
While the biggest battle of the first half of the day was taking place between New Zealand's bowlers and South Africa's batsmen, once the sparring actually took place between members of the same side. Morne Morkel and AB de Villiers had a collision when batting together after Morkel drove the ball passed Doug Bracewell and set off a single. While scurrying through, he mowed into AB de Villiers and fell over on impact. Morkel made it to the other end with few worries but rubbed his knee, where de Villiers' bat had hit him, with some concern.

Misfield of the day
Brent Arnel was not having a good day. He bowled ineffectual, expensive spells and then cost the team even when he slipped to allow a boundary. Bracewell aimed a ball at Morne Morkel's head but the South African No.10 had a plan. He pulled, although not with much power, to the deep square leg where Arnel was doing the work. He slid through, right arm outstretched and fingers scrambling for something. All they found was air as the ball escaped with Arnel desperately trying to get his body behind it.

Misfortune of the day
Rob Nicol has found increasingly interesting ways to get out and his second innings dismissal was quite unfortunate. He tried to play a Vernon Philander short ball off the back foot but was hit on the arm and the pad instead. The ball's subsequent path took it rolling towards the stumps and Nicol had thoughts of kicking it away, but they came too late because by the time he did anything, the offstump bail had been dislodged.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent