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Tuesday, 13 February 2024 08:24

De Swardt, Von Berg lead Proteas fightback in second New Zealand Test.

By Ross Roche.

An impressive fighting half century from Ruan de Swardt rescued the Proteas on day one of the second test against New Zealand at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Tuesday, with the visitors reaching the close of play on 220/6 in their first innings.

De Swardt arrived at the crease during the second session with his side in trouble on 101/5 and batted out the rest of the day scoring 55 off 135 balls (9x4).

He reached his maiden test half century in style with a sweetly driven cover drive for four off Matt Henry shortly before the close.

Along with 37-year-old Proteas test debutant Shaun von Berg, 34no off 82 (6x4), they shared in a crucial unbeaten 70-run seventh wicket partnership to see the Proteas finish the day on top, after they had struggled over the first two sessions.

“It feels unbelievable,” said De Swardt about scoring a maiden test half century. “It was hard graft out there, I though New Zealand bowled pretty well. But for me it was about getting stuck into them and having that mental toughness to keep going.

“From the position we were in we are not unhappy with the days play. I thought the fightback from our batters was unbelievable. I think there is still quite a bit in the wicket, so if we can bat well tomorrow and get past 300/350 we will definitely be in with a chance.”

With the Proteas surprisingly picking two spinners for the test on what commentators said was a seamers wicket, they will be happy to see that the top bowler for the Black Caps was part time spinner Rachin Ravindra who ended the day with figures of 3/33 off 21 overs.

“We didn’t expect it to spin on day one, but that was nice to see from our perspective,” admitted De Swardt.

“With runs on the board we are feeling good and we are just excited for the rest of the test, to keep fighting and try stay in it for as long as possible.”

In the final session the Proteas resumed after the tea break on 127/5, with David Bedingham (39) and De Swardt extending their sixth wicket stand to 51 runs.

Bedingham in particular was more positive than he was in the second session, but having brought up the Proteas 150 with back to back boundaries off Ravindra, he was then out caught in a bit of a freak dismissal.

After flicking the final ball of the over to short leg, fielder Will Young threw the ball back to the keeper who broke the stumps, with New Zealand appealing for a run out, with the umpire sending the decision upstairs.

The third umpire then noticed that Bedingham’s shot, which they thought went straight into the ground, had instead come off his boot with Young taking the catch, leaving the Proteas on 150/6.

This brought Von Berg in to join De Swardt and they started slowly before picking up the rate as they batted their side confidently to the close

In the post lunch session it was another low scoring session for the visitors, who resumed on 64/3 and after initially showing some fight, lost two quick wickets to put the hosts on top.

Zubayr Hamza (20) and Bedingham found themselves bogged down by some disciplined New Zealand bowling, while neither batter was interested in playing any shots.

They went through a spell of 11 overs, between the 31st and 42nd over, where they only scored seven runs, which included part time spinner Ravindra bowling four straight maidens.

The pressure from the part timer finally told in the 46th over as Hamza threw all his hard work away as he tried to slog sweep a tossed up ball from Ravindra, only to top edge it to Mitchell Santner at backward point, with the score 99/4.

In his next over Ravindra had new man Keegan Petersen (2) edging to Tim Southee at slip, leaving the Proteas in big trouble on 101/5.

De Swardt however came in with a positive mindset, striking three boundaries, as along with Bedingham they took the Proteas to tea without further trouble.

In the morning session at the start of play the Proteas won the toss and chose to bat first it, but got off to a poor start.

Opener Clyde Fortuin flashed a drive at the first ball he faced, edging Matt Henry to a diving Glenn Phillips at gully to take a superb catch one handed catch to send him on his way for a golden duck with the score 4/1.

Neil Brand (25) and Raynard van Tonder (32) combined for a decent 36-run second wicket stand, negotiating the new ball bowlers well as they saw out the initial danger.

Just when they were looking to kick on Brand missed one that angled back in from debutant Will O’Rourke to be trapped in front LBW.

He referred the decision in hope but the DRS showed that the ball would have clipped the top of the stumps, sending him on his way as they slipped to 40/2.

Van Tonder and Hamza then looked to be taking the Proteas to lunch, but with an over and a half to go Van Tonder, who had looked solid throughout his innings, disappointingly steered Neil Wagner straight to Tom Latham at gully, reducing them to 63/3.

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Rachin Ravindra, Will Young, Tom Blundell (wk), Glenn Phillips, Matt Henry, Tim Southee (capt), Neil Wagner, Will O’Rourke

South Africa: Neil Brand (capt), Zubayr Hamza, Raynard van Tonder, David Bedingham, Keegan Petersen, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin (wk), Shaun von Berg, Dane Piedt, Tshepo Moreki, Dane Paterson.