What’s the story?
A brilliant 148 from skipper Kane Williamson, assisted by half-centuries from Jeet Raval and Tom Latham put New Zealand in a commanding position at 321/4 after Day 3 of the third and final Test against South Africa at Hamilton.
South Africa speedster Morne Morkel claimed that the ball-change made by the umpires in the 59th over played a key role in New Zealand being in a dominant position by the end of the day.
Morkel said, “It was at a crucial stage. We had just got the ball to reverse. From a mental point of view, it cost us about 15 overs to get back into the game," Morkel said. "For me, it's a grey area because when they change the ball, they pick a ball for you.
“For me that doesn't add up. I would rather they give the fielding team three balls to pick from. But then I am also blaming my tools and I can't do that."
In case you didn’t know...
South Africa are currently leading the three-match Tests series 1-0 after winning the second Test at Wellington by eight wickets. In the third Test, the Proteas made 314 in their first innings thanks to fifties from Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock who scored a brilliant 90 despite sustaining an injury to his index finger.
In reply, the Kiwis are currently at 321/4 with captain Kane Williamson making a brilliant 148 and Jeet Raval and Tom Latham contributing through half-centuries. Morne Morkel has been the pick of the South African bowlers so far, picking up the crucial wickets of Latham and Raval who made 50 and 88 respectively.
The heart of the matter
After Tom Latham was dismissed for 50, Jeet Raval and Kane Williamson began to build a strong partnership for the second wicket. However, in the 59th over when New Zealand were 163/1, umpires Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker ordered a ball change, stating that the ball was out of shape and could not be used for play any longer.
This decision did not cater to the taste of the South Africans as they had just gotten the ball to reverse. With the new ball coming in to play, South Africa went on to concede 80 runs in the next 21 overs before Raval was dismissed by Morkel for 88 after staging a partnership of 190, which is New Zealand’s highest second wicket partnership against South Africa.
With Williamson in full control, New Zealand will be looking to end their first innings with a strong total. However, they will have to score at a quick rate as they only have another two days left.
While the change in ball was followed by New Zealand gaining momentum, it was some brilliant bit of batting from Jeet Raval and Kane Williamson that eventually helped New Zealand to a comfortable position in the match.