Rassie van der Dussen had to endure a scorching start to his innings and then a spiteful burst of short pitching bowling from former teammate Neil Wagner, but the phlegmatic 33-year-old still managed to set a top scorer for South Africa on another gripping day of the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.
Van der Dussen’s 45 helped bolster the middle order after Tim Southee dismissed both openers with just 23 runs on the board, adding 65 for the fourth wicket with Temba Bavuma (23). The Proteas finished the third day at 140/5, leading by 211.
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“We went out with a useful lead and tried to play on the front foot, looking to score, but New Zealand have a world class attack and they really don’t give you much,” said Van der Dussen.
“I myself was a bit more streaky than I usually am at the start of my innings and Neil then threw a brilliant spell of short which unfortunately left me out.
“Fourteen years ago, when I made my first-class debut for Northerns, we were on the same team. I knew his plan and he knew I wouldn’t leave short balls behind. There were runs to be found.
“So it was me or him and I had one or two more overs to go and I would have won the battle. But he’s got a big tank and done a good job for him. I’m sure it was entertaining to watch.”
Colin de Grandhomme’s brilliant 120 not out had previously kept the Black Caps in play when he took them to 293 all out.
However, Kagiso Rabada, who took 5/60, and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj were the only bowlers to hold him back for long, and Van der Dussen said they would be the pair the Proteas would likely call on in the fourth innings to win the game and equalize the series for South Africa.
“It would be very encouraging if we can strike early again in their second innings, and the way they played against Kesh in the first innings, I think he’s really going to come in in the fourth innings,” said Van der Dussen.
“If we can get through the first session tomorrow (Monday) then we’ll be in a great position and with a lead of over 270 we would be pretty happy.
“We have to give Kesh a chance to really get into the game and hopefully the field will deteriorate. KG also plays a big role for us. He doesn’t miss his lines and lengths much.
“KG asks a lot of questions, he can swing the ball and he has a good bouncer and a good yorker. The team looks to him to win games for us and he knows it. He takes responsibility and he knows that if he takes wickets, we win Tests.”