New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test, Wellington, 5th day
Williamson Save Test, South Africa Win Test Series27-Mar-2012 07:25:00 GMT
Wellington: Kane Williamson produced a valiant, unbeaten century to save the third Test of The National Bank Series for New Zealand against South Africa in Wellington.
The 21-year-old ensured the match was drawn at the Basin Reserve with a character-filled 102 not out in the Black Caps' second innings of 200 for six on the fifth and final day.
South Africa won the series 1-0 but Williamson ensured his team emerged with a thick slice of credit against the world's No 2-ranked test nation after a resolute innings spanning 327 minutes.
His second test century, and his first since passing three figures on debut against India in late 2010, salvaged pride for the New Zealanders, whose fate looked sealed when they were 83 for five after lunch.
But Williamson collaborated in two dogged stands, with wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell, to frustrate the South Africans.
Setting a highly improbable 389 to win in 81 overs and already without injured captain Ross Taylor, New Zealand's quest for survival did not start well in the face of a superb performance from fast bowler Morne Morkel, who returned test best figures of six for 23 off 16.4 overs, his fifth five-wicket haul in 39 tests.
New Zealand were without Taylor, who underwent surgery today to have a pin and metal plate inserted in his lower left forearm which Morkel fractured with a short, rising delivery during the home team's first innings on the fourth day.
And New Zealand were never chance once Morkel got into his work, quickly removing opener Daniel Flynn and first drop Brendon McCullum for ducks.
Flynn was too slow in dropping his hands as a short ball brushed his gloves on its way through to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and McCullum was no more successful before failing to keep out a well directed yorker to be trapped leg before wicket.
In an outstanding display of controlled, aggressive fast bowling, 27-year-old Morkel expertly mixed up his lengths, repeatedly troubling the batsmen with steep bounce before unleashing the yorker, a variation the New Zealanders could not cope with.
The latter delivery accounted for Dean Brownlie for 15 and Daniel Vettori for a duck in successive balls after Morkel also had Martin Guptill edging to gully for 18 after 99 minutes, and at one stage Morkel had figures of five for eight for off 10 overs.
Williamson had irked the tourists by standing his ground when they claimed a Vernon Philander catch at backward point when the batsman was on seven. Williamson was proven right, though, with replays inconclusive but thereafter he had to put up with plenty of chatter, which only increased when second slip AB de Villiers dropped him on 22.
But Williamson was above the distractions as he and van Wyk raised their team's hopes by sticking together for 100 minutes while 80 runs were added for the sixth wicket.
It took the return of Morkel to part them when the bowler hauled in a smart one-handed return catch from an aerial drive by van Wyk, who had been composed and determined in scoring 39.
Bracewell entered the middle with three successive ducks behind him but he, too, was up to the job as he remained unbeaten on 20 after 79 minutes in the middle.
Earlier, only two possible results were possible when play resumed this morning with South Africa on 75 without loss in the second innings, holding an overall lead of 274 runs.
They spent the next 70 minutes in total dominance as de Villiers scored a princely 68 off 49 balls with eight fours and one six as the tourists rushed along to 189 for three before de Villiers' dismissal prompted the declaration.
While Alviro Petersen added just one to his overnight 38 before being run out his opening partner Graeme Smith set the tone against defensive fields as he made a relatively brisk 41 before Bracewell took a smart catch at mid wicket.
South Africa used up just 15 overs this morning while adding 114 to their total, with the New Zealanders powerless to stop an onslaught which also featured 33 not out off 23 balls from Jean-Paul Duminy.
South Africa 474 for 9 dec (Petersen 156, Duminy 103, Gillespie 6-113) and 189 for 3 dec (de Villiers 68)
New Zealand 275 (Guptill 59, Philander 6-81) and 200 for 6 (Williamson 102*, Morkel 6-23)
MOM Morne Morkel (South Africa)