Kallis flays hapless New Zealand
A masterful 131 from Jacques Kallis, his 29th Test hundred, put South Africa well in charge of the second Test against a demoralised and embattled New Zealand. Kallis and Hashim Amla, who was unbeaten on 89, shared in a 220-run stand for the third wicket - their second huge partnership in a week.
What made it all the more depressing for New Zealand was the speed at which Kallis stole the momentum. Chris Martin had bowled impressively in the morning session, removed an out-of-form Graeme Smith in addition to Herschelle Gibbs. New Zealand's fielding, so shabby in the first Test at Johannesburg, was a vast improvement today too - led by Lou Vincent, who ought to have run out Amla in the fifth over of the day.
But from a rare position of relative strength, New Zealand's bowlers utterly lost the plot after lunch. Whereas in the morning Martin and Iain O'Brien were pitching it up, their strategy in the afternoon revolved around bouncers. Kallis pounced, creaming fours through (and over) extra cover and pulling leg-side strays through midwicket with quite ominous power. Right from the off, it was clear this wasn't to be one of his stodgy days.
This was Kallis at his cavalier best, a near-flawless innings of technical perfection - and pleasing to the eye, too. The strategy, if they had one, of dropping the ball short was so flawed as to be laughable. Kallis flayed them over point; backward of square; over and through midwicket, not to mention crunching drives through his favoured cover region. He sped to a hundred, his 29th and fifth in seven innings, from 143 balls, while passing 1000 runs for the calendar year. Never has he been in such imperious form.
Amla was less commanding but wonderfully effective, and is clearly benefiting from batting so often with a man of Kallis' experience. The slightest err in line from New Zealand's bowlers was seized upon, timing the ball beautifully off the back foot - particularly off Martin who, after his long morning spell, was now tiring. Without Jacob Oram (hamstring) and their spearhead, Shane Bond, the onus fell on the gangling O'Brien and Mark Gillespie, the debutant.
Gillespie resembles an All Black No. 8 rather than a Black Cap No.10, and was deceptively quick with a heavy ball that bounces off a length. After tea, New Zealand finally ended their baffling bouncer strategy and Gillespie was rewarded for an excellent over to Kallis when he found one to jag back on him, trapping him in front.
The most disappointing factor of New Zealand's day, if not the most crucial, was the hammering Daniel Vettori received. Amla and Kallis took 16 from his first four overs and from there he never settled. Short balls were pulled for six; half-volleys cracked through cover. With Vettori dispatched, New Zealand's last semblance of control was lost - and not even a defensive over-the-wicket tactic could dam the runs.
For the second time in two days bad light came to rescue New Zealand as South Africa went to stumps leading by 84.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo