Wellington: South Africa captain Faf du Plessis breathed a sigh of relief as rain bucketed down in Hamilton yesterday, washing out the final day of the third Test against New Zealand and ensuring a 1-0 series victory.
The Proteas had been facing a massive battle to save the Test, entering the final day having been reduced to 80 for five and still 95 runs short of making New Zealand bat again.
Du Plessis, who would have been joined by Quinton de Kock at the crease had rain not intervened, said he had been prepared to defend all day.
“I was ready to come out and play my blockathon,” du Plessis said. “New Zealand outplayed us in this game and deserved to win and they will count themselves unlucky.
“I’m pleased with another series win away from home, but to be honest I think we played very much under par, especially the batting unit.” Du Plessis’ analysis of his top order’s batting issues on the tour was not restricted to their third Test first innings slump to 64-3 and then a collapse to 59-5 on Tuesday.
In the first Test, they were 22-3 before Dean Elgar rescued them with 140 and century partnerships with du Plessis and Temba Bavuma.
In trouble again
In Wellington, they were in trouble at 94-6 in their first innings before Bavuma and de Kock combined for 160 runs.
Elgar’s century was the only one scored by the Proteas during the series and the batsmen who occupied slots five to eight in their line-up — du Plessis, Bavuma, de Kock and Vernon Philander — had four of their six top batting averages.
Elgar was the only top-order batsmen in the leading six, with fast bowler Morne Morkel holding the third best average of 49 courtesy of 40 runs in Wellington and two other not outs.
Du Plessis added that his side needed to ensure that those collapses did not happen again on their tour of England starting in May, before home series against India and Australia.
“In a Test match when the series is on the line you are looking for your players to front up and make it as hard as possible for the opposition to get your wicket,” he said. “I thought... that didn’t happen.
“But the good, strong teams find ways to win Test matches and series. And while we didn’t play very well, we somehow found ourselves winning another away series.”
Final scoreboard in the third and final Test between New Zealand and South Africa at Seddon Park in Hamilton after the last day’s play was washed out on Wednesday:
South Africa first innings 314 (Q. de Kock 90. F. du Plessis 53, H. Amla 50; Henry 4-93, Wagner 3-104)
New Zealand 1st innings
T. Latham c de Kock b Morkel 50
J. Raval c de Kock b Morkel 88
K. Williamson c Philander b Morkel 176
N. Broom lbw Rabada 12
H. Nicholls c de Kock b Rabada 0
M. Santner c Duminy b Rabada 41
B. Watling b Maharaj 24
C. de Grandhomme c de Kock b Morkel 57
M. Henry c Elgar b Maharaj 12
J. Patel c de Kock b Rabada 5
N. Wagner not out 0
Extras: (lb12, w5, nb7) 24
Total (all out; 162.1) 489
Fall of wickets: 1-83 (Latham), 2-273 (Raval), 3-293 (Broom), 4-293 (Nicholls), 5-381 (Williamson), 6-397 (Santner), 7-443 (Watling), 8-477 (Henry), 9-489 (Patel), 10-489 (de Grandhomme)
Bowling: Philander 33-7-79-0 (2nb), Morkel 36.1-7-100-4, Rabada 34-3-122-4 (1w, 1nb), Maharaj 50-8-118-2, Duminy 6-0-38-0, Elgar 1-0-13-0, Bavuma 2-0-7-0
South Africa 2nd innings
D. Elgar c Watling b de Grandhomme 5
T. de Bruyn run out (Williamson/Watling) 12
H. Amla c de Grandhomme b Patel 19
J. Duminy b Patel 13
F. du Plessis not out 15
T. Bavuma c Watling b Henry 1
Q. de Kock not out 15
Total: (5 wickets; 39 overs) 80
Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Elgar), 2-25 (de Bruyn) 3-49 (Amla), 4-50 (Duminy), 5-59 (Bavuma)
Bowling: Henry 11-4-20-1, de Grandhomme 8-5-15-1, Wagner 5-0-16-0, Patel 12-2-22-2, Santner 3-0-7-0
Result: Match drawn, South Africa win series 1-0
Toss: South Africa
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS), Rod Tucker (AUS)
Third umpire: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)