New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test, Wellington, 5th day March 27, 2012

The AB scoop, and a lot of drops

Plays of the Day from the final day of the Wellington Test

Audacious shot of the day
AB de Villiers occasionally gets so daring with the bat, it's hard to tell whether he thinks he is playing a Test match or a club game. He unleashed one of his manic spells as South Africa looked for quick runs to give themselves enough time to bowl New Zealand out. de Villiers was puncturing the leg-side with boundaries but then improvised to reach his fifty with a bold move on the off-side. Mark Gillespie sent down a good length ball, de Villiers had backed away to his left and reverse paddled the ball over both gullies for four. It was so good, it may become known as the "AB scoop" in future.

Drops of the day
South Africa were not up to their usual standard in the field in this match. Duminy put down three chances on the fourth day and another four were grassed today. Kane Williamson was let off by Alviro Petersen at gully when he was on 10. He was given a second life when de Villiers put him down on 22 at second slip. Dean Brownlie survived a chance when Graeme Smith had his body in an awkward position at first slip and could not hold on. By tea, fielding was obviously South Africa's main concern and because the break was spent practicing slip catches, but by the wrong people. Gary Kirsten was doing the catching while assistant coach Russell Domingo offered the chances. Perhaps de Villiers should have been taking catches because he dropped Doug Bracewell on 8 at second slip as the day drew to a close.

Words of the day
Vernon Philander usually does his talking with the ball but when he was at risk of finishing the innings without a wicket, he gave vent to his frustration. Kruger van Wyk was on the receiving end. Two balls after van Wyk got a thick outside edge over the slips off Philander, the fast bowler walked towards the batsman, stared him down and had a few words. The next ball was short and van Wyk defended. More words from Philander. Then, he had the ball to back up the words. A good length delivery that nipped away and beat the outside edge had van Wyk in no doubt about who had won the war of words. Philander did not have to say anything more. The battle was over as soon as the match was, though. Philander and van Wyk hugged and shared a joke as the players shook hands.

Incomplete over of the day
South Africa took the new ball to bowl the last over of the match. They had to take four wickets with it and Philander was tasked with the job. Off the second delivery he had an appeal for lbw against Bracewell that was clearly going down leg. And after the third and fourth balls were defended, Graeme Smith pulled the plug on the series and the draw was called. The small Basin Reserve crowd had become more vocal as the day wore on and New Zealand hung on, and they were on their feet at the end - applauding both their batsmen and South Africa bowlers with the same gusto.

Visitors of the day
Entry was free at the Basin today but the ground was not very full - an indication of what the hard-working people of Wellington were up to instead of being at the cricket. There was at least one notable figure in attendance though. American rugby player, Eric Fry, who represented the USA at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, was at the ground. Fry is a prop forward and is currently training with the Hurricanes franchise, who are based in Wellington. The other unexpected, but welcome, visitor came in the form of traditional caramel Anzac biscuits, provided to the journalists by one of the local reporter's wives.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on March 28, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    Just how valuable a player is Jaques Kallis? To fill his role as both batsman and bowler, he was replaced in this Test by two men - Duminy and De Lange. And yet STILL the Proteas could not win without him. Kallis is one of the finest slip fielders to have played the game - #3 on the "most catches in career list" - and at 36 is not slowing down, taking 4 in an innings & 6 in a match only 2 months ago! He would never have shelled both those chances at 2nd slip. SA would probably have won with Kallis as 12th man!

  • Sharad on March 27, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Thumbs up to Bruce's comment.

    @BanterousLemon123: The writer is a lady, although your point still stands irrespective of that. Just an FYI.

  • Mark on March 27, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    South Africa pride themselves on their fielding. AB and JP are among the bests. With all the put downs, South Africa could easily have won it and Steyn could have had a decent wicket tally. Rain also had a large part to play in reducing play time. Having said that, they did drop catches in both innings and NZ fought bravely, for which they deserve credit.

  • Warren on March 27, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Very poor fielding. De Villiers is one of the best fielders in the world, but today he was not foccused and probably prevented a win with those drops. That last drop (Bracewell) was a real shocker, and given stage of the game (only an injured Gillespie and then Martin to go, with 10 overs left), that helped NZ draw the game and prevented what would probably have been an excellent win for SA. Can't afford these freebies in England.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    This is not the first article in which you've tried to name a shot the AB-something, Firdose. I think it shows a lack of respect to the game when somebody attaches a trademark (as it were) to something that has always been in the game, albeit not as popular as it may have become. There have always been innovators and creative players. There will be in the future. Let's just enjoy cricket without getting finicky about who "owns" a shot.

  • Steff on March 27, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    I dont know where the writer of this article got his information, but entry to the basin today was not free. I paid $17 (student price) midway through the 2nd session for my ticket.

    Id be very careful about what is reported when it comes to NZ cricket attendence. I would say the attendence was actually pretty healthy considering it was a Tuesday and with the state of the game at that point.

  • No featured comments at the moment.