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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

'Oram played fantastically well' - Arthur

Micky Arthur, the South African coach, was understandably downcast at the end of the second day's play at Centurion Park, terming it as an "ordinary" one for his side. He hailed New Zealand's fighting spirit and felt that their depth in batting, all the way till No.10, was always going to be an advantage.

"We probably didn't do ourselves any favours after lunch," said Arthur at the end of the day. "We gave the left-handers [Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori] too much width, and let them get away from us. It was pretty disappointing and a pretty ordinary day at the end. At lunch time, we spoke about taking opportunities. We didn't do that against Australia, where we had 50-50 situations, but they took the opportunities better than we did. We wanted to turn that around, and we had them in a precarious position.

Oram and Vettori added 183 for the seventh wicket, helping New Zealand gain a handy 51-run lead. Arthur revealed that South Africa's pressure tactics had worked with New Zealand's top order, but come unstuck when faced with Oram and Vettori. "We planned for that," he said. "We wanted to put the likes of [Stephen] Fleming, [Scott] Styris and [Nathan] Astle under pressure, and we did that nicely - and then Jacob popped up and played fantastically well. And even a guy like [James] Franklin played some fantastic shots. I guess New Zealand are a little like us - they bat all the way down."

Oram, who made a career best 133, said it had been an emotional experience reaching his third Test century, after being out of Test cricket for nearly 18 months owing to a a string of injuries. "From a purely stroke-making point of view, it was the worst of the three [centuries]," he continued. "I never felt comfortable at all, and I didn't feel as good as I would have liked technically. But for the team, and the situation we were in, it was probably my best."

Considering the value of the century, it was surprising to observe Oram's relatively muted reaction after bringing up the landmark, when he saluted the dressing room and embraced Vettori. "I think it was a combination of a couple of things," he said about his reaction. "Firstly being out of Test cricket for however long it's been since Australia and also the nervousness and anxiety I had pre-Test. It built up due to the fact I hadn't played for so long. You're always doubting yourself - am I up to speed after such a long break? But it was an unbelievable feeling especially considering the position we had found ourselves in."

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