Second Test

New Zealand v South Africa

Colin Bryden

At Auckland, March 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2004. New Zealand won by nine wickets. Toss: New Zealand.

New Zealand gained their first victory in 13 home Tests against South Africa, the only country they had never beaten on their own soil. The win was comprehensive, though that seemed improbable after Fleming inserted the South Africans - only to watch them put on 177 for the first wicket.

South Africa dropped Adams and Nel and replaced them with Boje and Terbrugge. New Zealand, meanwhile, recalled Chris Martin for his first Test appearance since May 2002, ousting the off-spinner Wiseman. Martin proved to be the match-winner, justifying the belief of John Bracewell, the coach, that he could swing the ball away from the trio of left-handers in the South African top six. Martin proved more than useful against the right-handers, too, claiming match figures of 11 for 180, the best for New Zealand against South Africa.

A drop-in pitch helped the fast bowlers early on, but Smith and Gibbs played skilfully as they shared their sixth century opening stand in Tests, equalling the South African record held by Trevor Goddard and Eddie Barlow. Fleming's embarrassment was becoming acute when Gibbs fell to the ball before tea, and Smith to the first delivery afterwards. New Zealand then restricted Rudolph and Kallis to 54 runs in the last session.

Next day the weather was cloudy, and Martin took full advantage of conditions favourable to swing with an inspired, career-best performance. All told, eight South African wickets fell for 65 runs. Martin would have become the first New Zealander to take seven in an innings against South Africa had Fleming held a straightforward chance off Terbrugge at first slip: he settled for six for 76. South Africa's slump from 177 for none to 296 all out was so precipitate that the opening stand accounted for almost 60% of the total - the highest in a completed South African innings.

New Zealand lost Papps - the wicket that took Pollock past Allan Donald's South African record of 330 Test wickets - and Fleming inside eight overs. Stability was restored by Richardson, in typically stoic fashion, and by Styris, who played an exceptional innings, striking the ball crisply, and neatly finding the gaps. Kallis had Richardson caught at gully after they had added 125. It hardly stemmed the flow: McMillan and Styris put on 148 for the fourth wicket and steered New Zealand into a strong position.

On the third morning, Smith surprisingly did not take the new ball when it became available, preferring to persist with Boje. It worked: Styris, in an apparent loss of concentration, nudged the first delivery of the 81st over to slip. His career-best 170 had come off 220 balls with 24 fours and two sixes. Next over Smith did take the new ball - and McMillan and McCullum were gone while the shine was bright. With New Zealand 349 for six, South Africa were still in the game - until a magnificent display of batting from Cairns and Oram.

Their stand of 225, coming in just 190 minutes from 275 balls, was a record for any wicket by New Zealand against South Africa and the sixth-highest for the seventh wicket in Test history. Cairns's career-best 158 was made from 171 balls and included seven sixes. When he was caught at long-on, his career total stood at 79 Test sixes, five behind the record set by Viv Richards.

Rather less productive was Martin who became the first player to fail to hit a run in nine consecutive Test innings. But he did produce a splendid first ball when South Africa batted again, bowling Smith with a full delivery that clipped the leg stump as he tried to play to the on side.

Rudolph, who came in with South Africa still 299 behind, shared century stands with Gibbs and Kallis, raising hopes of a draw. With Tuffey unable to bowl because of a thigh injury, Fleming turned to McMillan. In the final hour of the fourth day and with the deficit down to 50, he broke through, trapping Kallis leg-before, and ending his chance of equalling Bradman by scoring a century in six successive Tests. Next over Martin dismissed Kirsten - having a wretched time in his 100th Test - and McKenzie with successive deliveries.

Boucher also fell that evening, and when South Africa eventually wiped out the arrears next morning, they had just three wickets in hand. Although Rudolph continued to defy the New Zealand bowlers, the match had swung irrevocably their way.

Man of the Match: C. S. Martin.

© John Wisden & Co