Brave Williamson earns NZ draw
Kane Williamson struck a determined century to help New Zealand hold out for a valiant draw on the last day of the final test against South Africa at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old batted for close to five-and-a-half hours to end unbeaten on 102 from 228 deliveries, his second career ton, as the hosts batted for 81.4 overs to end on 200 for six.
All six wickets were claimed by Morne Morkel after he ended with a career-best six for 23 to surpass his previous best of five for 20 against India at SuperSport Park in December 2010.
However, he lacked support when it counted, while the Proteas did not help their chances by dropping Williamson several times through his innings.
New Zealand, who were on 83 for five at one stage, also had Kruger van Wyk (39 off 80) and Doug Bracewell (20 not out from 59) to thank for providing able support to Williamson towards the end after they ate up valuable time late in the day.
But the result for the South Africans was enough to seal a series win following their nine-wicket triumph in the second test in Hamilton.
The final day had started out with quick runs needed by the visitors in a bid to set a target and they did that in the form of a superb 68 off 49 from AB de Villiers.
The Proteas’ limited-overs skipper shared an 83-run partnership with JP Duminy (33 off 23) that came from just 8.2 overs to allow their side to to declare midway through the morning on 189 for three and set a target of 389.
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Resuming on 75 for none at the start, Alviro Petersen (39) fell quickly followed by Graeme Smith (41) after the tourists went past 100.
The De Villiers-Duminy show took over thereafter with the former reaching his 50 in just 39 balls before he top-edged Bracewell to Williamson running in from long-off, prompting Smith to declare with 114 added in 14.4 overs during the first hour.
Morkel then produced the impeccable figures of 5-3-4-2 (five overs, three maidens, four runs and two wickets) before lunch to leave the home side reeling.
Daniel Flynn and Brendon McCullum both failed to trouble the scorers – the former giving Mark Boucher his 999th international dismissal when he edged to the veteran wicketkeeper in the third over.
South Africa could have had a third wicket before lunch but Williamson’s edge off Dale Steyn to Petersen at gully was deemed not to have carried, even though all the fielders were convinced.
The Proteas were visibly unimpressed, and despite more fierce bowling, they failed to get another wicket before lunch, which the Kiwis entered on 26 for two.
Three overs after the break, Morkel removed opener Martin Guptill for 18, while Williamson was put down by Petersen at gully and De Villiers at second slip.
But Morkel struck a double blow in the 36th over by bowling Dean Brownlie (15) and Daniel Vettori (nought) with successive yorkers.
Shortly before tea, Williamson squeezed Duminy behind point for three runs to bring up his 50 in 103 balls with the 100 following in the final over before the break.
Resuming on 103 for five afterward, Morkel was forced off the field with a suspected back problem midway through his 12th over, although he later returned to claim his sixth wicket.
Van Wyk and Williamson added 80 together, before the Wolmaransstad-born wicketkeeper was sent on his way thanks to a sharp return catch by the impressive Morkel with just under 17 overs remaining.
That lifted the spirits of the visitors, but they simply could not find a way through.
Williamson reached his 100 from 191 balls with a quick single, while De Villiers remarkably put down a second catch when he grassed Bracewell with 10 overs to go.
It proved the final chance as New Zealand held on.
Report Day 1
Report Day 2
Report Day 3
Report Day 4
NEW ZEALAND - Martin Guptill, Daniel Flynn, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor (capt), Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Vettori, Kruger van Wyk (wk), Doug Bracewell, Mark Gillespie, Chris Martin.
SOUTH AFRICA - Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph, Mark Boucher (wk), Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Marchant de Lange.