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RESULT
1st Test, Mount Maunganui, February 04 - 07, 2024, South Africa tour of New Zealand
511 & 179/4d
(T:529) 162 & 247

New Zealand won by 281 runs

Player Of The Match
240 & 2/16
rachin-ravindra
Report

Red-hot Williamson puts the stamp on NZ's day again

Williamson followed his first-innings ton with a more enterprising 109 off 132 balls to flatten a depleted South Africa and power New Zealand's lead to 528

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
06-Feb-2024
Kane Williamson smacked a fluent 109  •  Getty Images

Kane Williamson smacked a fluent 109  •  Getty Images

New Zealand 511 & 179 for 4 (Williamson 109, Mitchell 11*) lead South Africa 162 (Petersen 45, Henry 3-31, Santner 3-34) by 528 runs
Kane Williamson followed his first-innings 118 of 289 with a more enterprising 109 off 132 balls to flatten a depleted South Africa and power New Zealand's lead to a gigantic 528 at the end of the third day. South Africa had earlier been bowled out for 162 as New Zealand further pushed for victory despite not opting to enforce the follow-on after taking a lead of 349 in the first innings.
Williamson went from 29 to 31 Test centuries in a matter of three days and unlike in the first innings, he scored quicker and held the New Zealand innings together even though they were well ahead in the game when he walked out to bat at 10 for 1. But like in the first innings, he was again given a life, on 61, and he cashed in to punish the South Africa bowlers. He become the joint second-quickest batter to 31 Test centuries in 170 innings with Steven Smith, and only behind Sachin Tendulkar's 165.
As compared to his hundred on Sunday, Williamson played his strokes with a lot more freedom and found the gaps more easily once he reached fifty off 75 balls. Until then, he was held down a fair bit by Tsepho Moreki and Dane Paterson by the new ball, but not by Ruan de Swardt whom he smacked for three fours in the over after the tea break. Barring a classical straight drive early in his innings, also off de Swardt, Williamson scored most of his runs square of the pitch and behind it with his trademark dabs on the off side and pulls off the shorter balls. Like in the first innings, he showed some signs of frustration when he couldn't pierce the gaps early on and got a life when he uncharacteristically heaved Paterson to deep square leg where Edward Moore shelled a sitter.
There was no stopping Williamson after that. He raced from 64 to 100 in just 25 balls, by backing away for boundaries against Paterson - one of which was half a chance at mid-off - and with just four dot balls in the period as he also took on Neil Brand's left-arm spin from over the wicket. The hundred came up with 15 minutes left for stumps when he punched Brand on the off side for a single and followed it with a big swing for six over wide long-on in Brand's next over when he came around the wicket. Five balls later he attempted another big shot on the leg side but was stumped for 109.
In between, first-innings hero Rachin Ravindra fell for 12 to de Swardt when he tried to attack after the second-wicket stand of 92 between Devon Conway and Williamson was broken when Conway slog-sept Brand to deep midwicket. Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell ended the day for the hosts by batting for just one over together.
New Zealand's charge was started by two wickets in an over from Matt Henry in the first session of the day followed by a three-for from Mitchell Santner, who bowled a very disciplined 21 overs for just 34 runs a day after turning 32.
South Africa had to crawl their way from 80 for 4 to their eventual score of 162 as the New Zealand quicks bowled tight and the spinners Santner and Ravindra found turn and drift to contain the tail. Keegan Petersen was the main source of resistance for South Africa along with supporting acts from Clyde Fortuin and Duanne Olivier. South Africa had scored just three runs in the first 33 balls of the day before a solid-looking David Bedingham got a leading edge off a wild pull which Santner settled under near the pitch. Two balls later, left-handed de Swardt shouldered arms to an inswinger from around the wicket to be struck outside off and was given out. De Swardt reviewed almost immediately, and ball-tracking showed the ball would have just shaved off stump and the batter had to walk back reluctantly.
Petersen and Fortuin got together at a precarious 83 for 6 and started with plenty of blocks. Petersen was stuck on 2 for as many as 31 balls, while Fortuin showed good technique against the fast bowlers. Petersen soon picked up pace with a rare boundary off Tim Southee and survived a close lbw call when he missed a rare reverse sweep against Santner. New Zealand called for a review, but ball-tracking showed the ball to be missing the stumps.
Fortuin took 17 balls to get off the mark and also survived a chance when Santner drew an outside edge that deflected off Blundell's gloves and landed near the right boot of first slip. His stubborn 79-minute vigil and the seventh-wicket stand of 37 ended when he attacked Santner but handed a catch to short cover for 9.
Soon after Duanne Olivier collected consecutive boundaries off Kyle Jamieson after lunch, Southee brought on spin from both ends after seeing Santner draw a few edges and keep the lbw in play. Santner produced two loud lbw shouts in the 60th over against Olivier and Peterson, but on both occasions the batters had edged the ball. When it looked like Peterson would bring up a valiant fifty, he threw his wicket away with a slog against Ravindra and handed a leading edge to mid-off for 45.
Olivier continued to frustrate the hosts which made the spinners strike in consecutive overs at the other end. Santner removed Moreki's off stump for his 50th Test wicket while Ravindra snared Paterson in similar fashion to wrap up the innings.

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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