South Africa 314 (De Kock 90, Du Plessis 53, Amla 50, Henry 4-93) and 80 for 5 (Du Plessis 15*, de Kock 15*, Patel 2-22) drew with New Zealand 489 (Williamson 176, Raval 88, de Grandhomme 57, Morkel 4-100, Rabada 4-122)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
August 2006 to March 2017. That’s five months shy of 11 years. And in that time, South Africa have only lost one Test series away from home. With a 1-0 win over New Zealand, not only was that record safe, it was made better. So what if they needed a little help from a little rain (51 mm, according to Met Service predictions)? They’ve deserved it. Few teams in the history of cricket have been such indomitable travellers.
Inherent in that is praise for Kane Williamson’s team too. They were stripped of three of their biggest match-winners – Ross Taylor (16 centuries), Trent Boult and Tim Southee (a combined 394 wickets). They lost the toss. They conceded a total of 314 and then took a lead of 175. At stumps on day four, they were five wickets away from beating South Africa for the first time in 13 years.
And then, there was no more cricket. Overnight storms spilled over into the playing hours, and Faf du Plessis, who was at the crease even as his colleagues succumbed to the fatigue of spending 162.1 overs on the field, was denied the chance to add to his many blockathons. He had seen his side careen to No. 7 in the rankings at the start of the summer. “A dark time,” he called it at the post-match presentation.
On the April 1 cut-off date, du Plessis will be confirmed as the captain of the No. 2 team in the world. With a bumper season at home coming up later in the year, he and his men could easily go one better.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.