‘Hard graft’ from all-rounders leads South Africa fightbackTue, 13 Feb 2024 06:55:28 GMT

All-rounders Ruan de Swardt and Shaun von Berg used “hard graft” to lead a South African rearguard on Tuesday as they reached 220-6 after New Zealand had dominated the start of the second Test.De Swardt reached his maiden half-century and was 55 not out at stumps on day one. The 37-year-old Von Berg was 34 on his Test debut, with the pair having put on an unbroken 70 off 27 overs at Seddon Park in Hamilton.South Africa won the toss but were 64-3 at lunch and tottering at 150-6 early in the final session after David Bedingham was dismissed in freakish fashion.After losing in Mount Maunganui by 281 runs, an understrength South Africa must win to avoid becoming the first team from their country to lose a Test series to New Zealand.De Swardt, who had been one of six Proteas debutants in the first Test, showed the specialist batsmen how to survive in a gritty 135-ball knock.He received support from veteran leg-spinner von Berg, who was finally given an international opportunity after playing 135 first-class matches.”It was quite hard graft out there,” de Swardt said.”I thought the New Zealanders bowled pretty well but for me it was just about getting stuck into them, having that mental toughness and keeping going.”There’s still quite a bit in the wicket so if we can bat well tomorrow, get past 300, 350, we’re definitely in with a chance.”The pair halted a mini-collapse either side of the tea break inspired by Rachin Ravindra, who took 3-33.Ravindra, who scored 240 in the first Test, underlined his all-round talent by removing Zubayr Hamza for a painstaking 20 off 99 balls and Keegan Petersen for two.His left-arm spin then accounted for the unfortunate Bedingham, on 39, whose leg-side flick struck the top of his shoe and flew to close-in fielder Will Young.South Africa made a dreadful start when makeshift opener Clyde Fortuin was dismissed for nought first ball in the second over, caught brilliantly in the gully by Glenn Phillips off Matt Henry.Pace bowler Will O’Rourke took a wicket on debut when he had captain Neil Brand trapped leg before for 25 midway through the first session.Raynard van Tonder was then out for 32 just before lunch, caught at gully after failing to get on top of Neil Wagner’s short delivery.”It was probably a little slower, the wicket, than what we were expecting,” said O’Rourke.”We strangled them really well. I think we’re happy with the day.”South Africa strengthened their spin attack by picking von Berg and recalling off-spinner Dane Piedt for his first Test in four years.They replaced opener Edward Moore and seamer Duanne Olivier.For New Zealand, the 22-year-old O’Rourke replaced Kyle Jamieson, who had back pain following the first Test.Veteran seamer Wagner was recalled in place of spinner Mitchell Santner, while Young replaced batsman Daryl Mitchell, who was ruled out with a foot injury.