New Zealand 258 for 2 (Ravindra 118*, Williamson 112*, Paterson 1-59) vs. South Africa
Williamson was the more patient and circumspect of the two as he put a difficult start behind him, while Ravindra smoked a six off his 11th ball to begin his best Test score, as both batsmen picked up the pace in the final session until almost touch. the run rate of three and more.
Dane Paterson also tested the batsmen with his swinging seam move, and soon drew the outside edge of Tom Latham for 20. The nerves continued as Williamson was almost exhausted when Ravindra hit his fifth ball towards cover point for a quick single, only for the delivery to be wayward. Had Williamson been dismissed, the hosts would have been 44 for 3 at that point.
Ravindra’s start was much safer as he welcomed Moreki for a second spell with a six at the long leg boundary. Moreki continued to impress anyway, and even took Ravindra’s lead three balls later, but fell well short of second slip. Ravindra enjoyed a little more luck with Moreki in the 23rd over when his inside edge narrowly missed the stumps, making him a little more vigilant.
But conditions began to improve for batting after the initial swing subsided and once the ball grew. Williamson opened with imperious boundaries off Moreki in consecutive overs, and Ravindra soon caught up with him as she broke the shackles against Paterson with cover and a powerful pull for four off a bounce.
While Williamson played the ball very late and used soft hands to ensure his edges didn’t move, Ravindra drove, cut and pulled the loose deliveries with hard hands and a lot more punch. Williamson got a life in 45 minutes before tea when, uncharacteristically, he struggled against the medium pace of Ruan de Swardt, but Edward Moore brought down the vanguard as he ran in from extra cover.
And Williamson reached his fifty in the next over with a boundary, while Ravindra reached his in the over after the break. They both scored much more freely with boundaries to score over four runs and more in the half hour after the tea break when Ravindra approached his partner. By then Duanne Oliver’s pace had begun to drop below 125 km/h, and South Africa captain Neil Brand launched a left-arm spin, but to no avail.
Soon after, Ravindra got a life on 80 when his top edge flew towards backward square leg where Olivier ran and lunged forward, and took the ball with both hands, but couldn’t hold it. As South Africa began bowling consistently shorter before the second new ball was taken, Williamson struggled to reach his 30th Test century, off 241 balls, while Ravindra’s historic moment came in the next over, with 189 deliveries.
South Africa’s fortunes did not change even after the second new ball, which both batsmen immediately converted for four. Ravindra continued to outperform Moreki, whether he bowled full or short, to edge out Williamson and finish the day unbeaten on 118, ten ahead of the former captain.
Vishal Dikshit is assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo