RESULT
2nd Test, Christchurch, February 25 - March 01, 2022, South Africa tour of New Zealand
364 & 354/9d
(T:426) 293 & 227

South Africa won by 198 runs

Player Of The Match
5/60, 47 & 3/46
kagiso-rabada
Player Of The Series
58 runs • 14 wkts
matt-henry
Report

Sarel Erwee's maiden Test ton makes it South Africa's day

Dean Elgar goes against the trend in choosing to bat in New Zealand conditions, and then helps bring up a rare away century opening stand for South Africa

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
24-Feb-2022
Sarel Erwee punches in the air after reaching his century, New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd Test, Christchurch, 1st day, February 25, 2022

Sarel Erwee punches the air after reaching his century  •  AFP via Getty Images

South Africa 238 for 3 (Erwee 108, Markram 42, Southee 1-41) vs New Zealand
Sarel Erwee scored his first Test century in his second match and shared in South Africa's best opening partnership since December 2020 as the visitors defied the odds while batting first at the Hagley Oval. Dean Elgar became the first captain to win the toss and choose to put runs on the board at this venue, and only the fourth in the last 45 Tests hosted in New Zealand to make that decision. The move was particularly forthright after South Africa were bowled out for 95 and 111 in the first Test, but paid off as they scored more than they did in both innings combined.
On a surface that was much less green than the first Test, New Zealand's five-pronged pace attack did not find the same seam movement they did last week and appeared far less threatening. They stuck to their mostly short-of-a-length strategy and found swing through the air but South Africa's more cautious and determined strategy served them well. The run-rate hovered under three an over and New Zealand sent down 31 maidens in their 90 overs. Pressure was never far away but South Africa found ways to cope.
Elgar set the tone when he fronted up and survived against Tim Southee, who had several opportunities to snag him. He beat Elgar's inside edge several times and then found it, in his fourth over, but the edge fell short of first slip. That was the first of three chances New Zealand created for Daryl Mitchell but all of them evaded him.
Erwee started in much quieter fashion. He scored just five runs off the first 25 balls he faced before almost losing his leg stump to an inswinging yorker from Southee. His first convincing shot was a punch through square leg off Kyle Jamieson. It took him until the 16th over to draw level with Elgar in runs terms, on 17, but once he overtook the captain, he grew in confidence. He showed off a series of drives and brought up 50 off Colin de Grandhomme with a shot that went wide of point for four and took South Africa to lunch on 80 without loss. It was only the second time in 11 Tests at this ground that the batting team has gone to lunch without losing a wicket.
The pair became the first visiting duo to share a century stand in the first innings of a Test in New Zealand since Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs in 2004 when Erwee drove Southee past mid-off for four. Though Southee was still swinging it, New Zealand must have wondered where a wicket would come from. Two overs later, Southee bowled Elgar with an inswinger that beat the outside edge and hit off stump, ending South Africa's first away opening stand of over 100 since Adelaide 2012.
That brought Aiden Markram, Elgar's former opening partner who has been moved to No. 3 and effectively put on notice to score runs or ship out, to the crease. He provided a reminder of his form of old when he unfurled a cover drive off Southee but runs in general proved difficult for him to collect. It took him 47 balls to move past 10, and he offered a chance. Markam was on 6 when he edged a Neil Wagner delivery, but it fell short of Mitchell at first slip.
Instead, in what may turn out to be a cruel twist of grooming his replacement, Markram provided a foil while Erwee worked his way to his century. He could have been out on 68, when Matt Henry found the outside edge but the chance fell short of first slip again. Erwee entered the nineties off the 160th ball he faced and spent 28 balls more getting to his century. He brought it up with a pull behind square off Wagner, three balls before tea, and celebrated with a punch in the air and an embrace from Markram, who would have had runs on his mind.
Markram brought out the straight drive and the pull in the evening session and, as the ball got older, both he and Erwee appeared settled. But then, against the run of play, Markram got forward to block a Neil Wagner delivery and edged short of Southee and second slip. That was New Zealand's fourth chance. In the next over, Markram's concentration, which had lasted for two hours and 17 minutes, and 103 balls, wore out. He chased a wide Wagner ball and it carried - finally - to Mitchell at first slip to end his innings on 42. Markram now averages 12.63 from his last 11 Test innings.
Two balls later, Erwee also played a loose stroke and nicked behind against Henry. New Zealand could have had Temba Bavuma two balls after that when he fended a delivery that took the shoulder of the bat but the chance went between third slip and gully. Next ball, Bavuma edged a delivery he had tried to pull out of playing, and the ball bounced in front of a diving Mitchell at first slip and went for four. Bavuma was on 14 when he edged Jamieson short of second slip but, with Rassie van der Dussen, he went on to take South Africa to the second new ball and the close.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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