Continuous rain on Day 5 forced the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand to a tame draw after four days of exciting action. The game was evenly poised at the end of Day 4 with South Africa leading by 191 runs and having four wickets in hand.
A quick declaration and an attempt to bowl out the Black Caps was expected on Day 5, but rain ruined hopes for both teams at Dunedin. Not a single ball was bowled on Day 5, and the fans are left wondering what would have been the case if play had resumed after a wonderful display of Test cricket thus far.
Dean Elgar, Neil Wagner and Kane Williamson will walk off with proud faces after a brilliant showing in the first Test. All of them, would, however, wonder if their contributions could have been match-winning ones had the game proceeded.
Brief Scores : South Africa 308/10 (Elgar 140, Boult 4/64) and 224/6 (Elgar 89, Wagner 2/57) drew with New Zealand 341/10 (Williamson 130, Maharaj 5/94)
Here we take a glance at the talking points from the 1st Test at Dunedin between South Africa and New Zealand.
#5 Dean Elgar's inspired performance
Fighting fire with fire is Dean Elgar's way of batting. The not so elegant, gritty South African opener showed his teammates the way to bat on a green yet sluggish wicket at Dunedin.
He was boring and left more balls than most South Africans did whole summer, but importantly he got the job done. A brilliant first innings 140 single-handedly led his team to a good total on a difficult pitch against some sharp bowling.
However, when he saw that his team was trailing in spite of his tough innings, he returned to play another crucial knock in the second outing, an 89 against some serious slow bowling from Jeetan Patel. His wicket started a mini-collapse late on day 4 for the visitors.
#4 Kane Williamson's anti-Elgar show
While Dean Elgar was watchful and fought hard to score his runs, Kane Williamson made run scoring look rather easy on a difficult wicket. He was quick on his feet and left the right balls while managing to score at a rate well above what the game had proceeded in.
He was unperturbed by the bounce of Morkel and the seam movement of Philander. When Rabada overpitched, Williamson was quick to drive him but otherwise remained watchful against the seamer.
His handling of Keshav Maharaj prompted the South African camp to rejig their plans. Maharaj came back much stronger but never got the better of the Black Caps skipper, who looked very comfortable against the left-arm spinner.
#3 Morne Morkel impresses on return
Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel formed a hugely threatening triumvirate of South African fast bowlers a few years back. The last year saw a wave of change as injuries put Steyn and Morkel out if reckoning.
Steyn is still out, but Morkel made a much-awaited return after a one-year break from the game due to a back injury. The pacer hadn't played much cricket domestically before his recall and questions were raised about his selection over Duanne Olivier, who had impressed on his debut.
But as the saying goes, 'class is permanent' and Morkel was at his beastly best in Dunedin. He generated disconcerting bounce and bowled the right channels to trouble the Kiwi batsmen. Although none of it has appeared in the wickets column, South Africa will be aware that they have their champion bowler back.
#2 Teams struggle with their reviews
Both teams had their moments with the Decision Review System (DRS) in the first Test. While South Africa managed it better than the Kiwis, they weren't pretty good either and will have to do a lot of work in the background.
New Zealand messed up the review thrice in the second innings, all of them against JP Duminy. They reviewed for an LBW when there was an inside edge and reviewed a caught behind when there was no clear outside edge. When Patel did strike Duminy in front, the umpire did not give it out and New Zealand did not bother to review it.
South Africa, on the other hand, had opener Stephen Cook walking back without reviewing after being adjudged caught behind off of the fourth ball of the second innings when there was no edge from his bat. Both teams will need to get their DRS calls spot on going further. In a tightly contested series, one decision could change the course of a Test.
#1 Jeetan Patel vs Mitchell Santner
The comeback of 34-year-old Jeetan Patel has New Zealand pondering on the inclusion of Mitchell Santner, their all-round spinner. Santner has barely contributed with the bat and despite being tidy with the ball, remained in the shadows of Patel in the first Test.
Jeetan Patel, meanwhile, enjoyed yet another great comeback to the Test side and bowled with great control on a slow wicket. He kept the dangerous Proteas keeper, Quinton de Kock, silent in both innings with his guile and dismissed him both times. With South Africa having a further two left-handed batsmen in the top six, New Zealand will be tempted to keep Patel going.
In Wellington, the venue of the second Test, the ball isn't expected to turn much and playing two spinners may not be a wise decision. Southee was forced to sit out for a spinner in Dunedin, but a quicker pitch will put him back in the reckoning.