At a ground that is notorious for being a burial ground for spinners, South Africa’s spin-duo Duminy and Keshav Maharaj claimed six wickets between them to dismiss the Black Caps for just 268.
Seamers Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada had followed the customary trend by picking up the first three Kiwi wickets to fall, reducing the home side to 21/3 within the first hour, before Maharaj and then later Duminy prospered on a pitch that did not offer much assistance to the slow bowlers.
Due to the lack of turn of offer, the duo needed to box clever and opted to deliver the ball wide outside the off stump to lure the Kiwi batsmen forward. Maharaj gained success in this manner when opener Jeet Ravel pushed outside his off stump, but only managed to edge the left-armer to Hashim Amla at first slip on the stroke of lunchtime.
Jimmy Neesham was also out stretching forward to Maharaj, but on this occasion the Kiwi all-rounder did not keep his foot behind the line to allow Quinton de Kock to whip off the bails.
It was only until centurion Henry Nicholls (118), who forced Maharaj to bowl at him, did the Kiwis innings begin to prosper.
At that point, though, it was Duminy’s turn to make an impact when Nicholls’s positive attitude proved ultimately to be his undoing when the off-spinner slipped a flatter delivery underneath Nicholls’s bat. This opened the gate for Duminy to charge through and he picked up another two wickets in his following two overs to create another mini Kiwi collapse.
Even some lower-order slogging from Tim Southee could not deter Duminy as he battled on to claim the final New Zealand wicket to fall, which earned the 32-year-old his best-ever Test match bowling figures.
“There are times in the game when things need to go your way, and fortunately it happened for us. But I think that comes down to being consistent in trying to hit a certain area. With that things will happen for you. That played out today,” Duminy said.
“It is not a wicket that we would think spinners would dominate on. But I think the plan and strategy we had to take wickets was a really good one. We tried to bowl a bit of a wider line because there wasn’t a lot of purchase there for spinners. I thought our tactics were pretty good.”
Duminy equally offered praise to Nicholls for the way the 25-year-old carved out a century under severe pressure and in tough batting conditions.
“To come out and play as positive as he did was probably the way to go on a surface like that. He never backed off, always looked to play his shots. On a wicket like that it was the recipe for success and hopefully we can take something out of that,” Duminy explained.
South Africa will certainly hope to learn from Nicholls’s exploits as they slumped to 24/2 with opening pair Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar already back in the hut.
“(Friday) is obviously going to be a big day in terms of where this Test match goes. We’re looking for a ‘three-tick’ day and we going to have to graft hard as a batting unit,” Duminy said.
“There is still a little bit in that wicket. It has perhaps kind of died a little but that first hour tomorrow is going to be crucial with a hint of swing with Southee out there. We are going to have to bat well.”