Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
10 Mar 2017
7:43 am

Keshav Maharaj prospers on old-fashioned day of Test cricket

Heinz Schenk

The Proteas spinner bags a maiden 'five-for' as an evacuation for a fire alarm provides some drama in the first Test against New Zealand.

It was a good day for Keshav Maharaj. Photo: Dianne Manson/Getty Images.

On paper, Friday’s third day’s play in the first Test between the Proteas and New Zealand in Dunedin looked rather dull.

The going was definitely slow.

Yet, in an era where spectators (and even some players) look for instant satisfaction, this match is a throwback to a previous age.

This is what Test cricket really is about – a tough, even battle between bat and ball.

And, if some couldn’t quite appreciate that, there was some drama of another kind.

Play had to be stopped for 20 minutes in the final session after the ground had to be evacuated due to a fire alarm going off.

Authorities quickly determined that steam from an unknown origin had set off the alarm in the grandstand.

Because the University Oval is part of a complex – much like Tuks’ LC de Villiers compound – it was reasonably easy to evacuate the 3 300 spectators from the ground.

The players were actually loitering on the field.

No threat was determined and neither was there any damage as play resumed quickly.

The Proteas’ bowling was far more disciplined after an iffy previous day as they restricted New Zealand to 341, giving them a lead of 33.

By the close of play, South Africa had wiped out that deficit and reached 38/1. They will have the advantage of setting a total for the Kiwis to try to chase down on a challenging surface in the final innings.

It was a memorable day for left-arm tweaker Keshav Maharaj in particular.

The 26-year-old spinner celebrated a maiden five-wicket haul as he ended with figures of 5/94 from 28.3 overs, bowling particularly well to the tailenders.

But his three-pronged pace attack did their job as well.

Morne Morkel remained superb and was eventually rewarded with 2/62, his ball to dismiss Jimmy Neesham being special.

Kagiso Rabada bowled 30 overs to suggest he’s over his stomach bug and Vernon Philander (2/67) was miserly.

However, they struggled to dislodge the brilliant Kane Williamson as the New Zealand captain survived and then flourished to score 130.

He was well supported by BJ Watling, who made an even 50.

Stephen Cook’s miserable match continued when he was caught off the fourth delivery he faced but Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla gritted it out in gloomy weather.

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