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Bedingham century gives Proteas hope of victory over New Zealand in evenly poised contest

Bedingham century gives Proteas hope of victory over New Zealand in evenly poised contest
David Bedingham of the Proteas celebrates scoring a century during day three of the second Test against New Zealand, at Seddon Park on 15 February, 2024 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

New Zealand 211 and 40-1 (Tom Latham 21 not out). South Africa 242 and 235 (David Bedingham 110, Keegan Petersen 43, Will O'Rourke 5-34). New Zealand need 227 runs to win.

A maiden Test century from elegant right-hander David Bedingham and a late wicket by off-spinner Dane Piedt left the outcome of the second Test at Seddon Park in Hamilton against New Zealand beautifully poised going into day four.

New Zealand finished day three on 40 for one, still needing 227 to win, while the Proteas need nine wickets to level the series at 1-1. With the weather forecast decent, it seems there will be a result on day four.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Proteas shoot down New Zealand batters in the Dane-ger zone on day two

Piedt trapped Devon Conway leg before with what was the last ball of the day, to give the Proteas a boost after a batting collapse soured an overall good day for the tourists.

Although the Proteas have a chance of securing an unlikely victory, they would’ve liked a few more runs in the bank with so much time left in the match.

Bedginham played beautifully on his way to a deserved century after being easily the Proteas’ best batter on tour. But from 202 for four, when Bedingham and Keegan Petersen looked well set with a 98-run partnership, things fell apart.

Petersen was slightly unlucky to be brilliantly caught by a diving Glenn Phillips in the gully off the bowling of seamer Matt Henry when he was well set on 43.

That ended a good stand and ushered in a collapse with the final six Proteas wickets falling for the addition of only 33 runs.

Keegan Petersen of the Proteas

Keegan Petersen of the Proteas. (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Soon after Petersen’s dismissal, Bedingham brought up his century with a cover drive. It was an elegant stroke that summed up Bedingham’s classy knock and overall talent, which had yielded 18 first-class centuries before his Test breakthrough.

Bedingham’s outing was even more impressive coming as it did in the second innings of the match and with South Africa under a little pressure when he arrived at the crease.

With his team on 39 for three, Bedingham’s first job was to steady the wobble, which he and Zubayr Hamza managed to do with a 65-run fourth-wicket stand.

After playing well against the testing seam of Henry and captain Tim Southee, the introduction of left-arm seamer Neil Wagner did the trick for New Zealand.

Hamza attempted to pull a short ball and was caught at deep square leg for 17. It was another good start for Hamza, but another disappointment in giving his wicket away after a 63-ball stay.

David Bedingham, Proteas

Neil Wagner of New Zealand (left) watches as David Bedingham of the Proteas sets off for a run. (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Blooming Bedingham

But Petersen offered support to Bedingham and two looked unflustered with the latter approaching his milestone.

When he finally reached his century a few overs later he did not leap in the air and pump his fist. He smiled, battled to remove his helmet and then raised his bat to his teammates in the dugout. Like his batting, it was a measured celebration, knowing more runs were needed.

Bedingham however, added only 10 more before falling victim to Phillips in the gully, off the bowling of impressive debutant Will O’Rourke.

It was a tired shot, which just guided the ball to Phillips — perhaps only the second or third false shot of his entire innings. The rest of the innings then folded quickly, leaving the New Zealand batters with a tricky hour to navigate before the close.

Will O'Rourke, New Zealand, Proteas

Will O’Rourke of New Zealand. (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

At 29, Bedingham is a late starter to his Test career after a horror car crash eight years ago that cost him more than a year on the sidelines as he reconstructed his body and mind.

His path then led him to England, away from the domestic South African game where he had success with Durham, initially as a Kolpak player, but later as one of their two overseas professionals.

A desire to play Test cricket and a call from coach Shukri Conrad saw Bedingham return to South Africa to try and make his dream come true. He played both Tests earlier this summer against India and after six innings at Test level, he has scored 347 runs at an average of 57.8 with one century and two half-centuries. It’s a strong start to his career.

“Obviously (the century) is really cool,” Bedingham said. “I hope this innings can win us this Test and draw the series. (Getting) Conway probably puts us even, but I think (our bowlers) have it in them to get nine more wickets.”

O’Rourke also made an impressive start to his Test career, taking five for 34 to add to his four for 59 in the first innings for a match return of nine for 93.

He’s tall, quick and aggressive. His ball to dismiss Proteas skipper Neil Brand earlier in the day, which lifted off a length, catching the inside of the blade, was a snorter. The Black Caps have unearthed another gem.

“It was a real special day,” said O’Rourke. “I think we’re feeling pretty confident. Obviously, they batted well through the middle and we had to grind away but it fell pretty quickly in the end.” DM

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  • Mbulelo Journey says:

    Well done to the team for putting up a fight this time and as a bonus, some players showed they are ready to play for the “1st/A” team. Hope tomorrow goes our way, but if it doesn’t I do hope the team continues to show their fight and talents.

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