‘New Zealand can count themselves very unlucky’

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South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has conceded that his team caught a lucky break when rain ruined the fifth and final day of the third Test against New Zealand in Hamilton.

The subsequent draw bagged South Africa a big payday as they moved ahead of Australia into second place with no further Tests to be played before the Test Championship cut-off on April 1.

The Proteas had harboured faint hopes of saving the match with Du Plessis and Quinton de Kock at the crease but they were five down for 80 still 95 runs adrift of New Zealand who were powered to a big first innings lead by a brilliant Kane Williamson ton.

Speaking after the match had been called off Du Plessis said: “Everyone would say New Zealand can count themselves very unlucky. The rain has come at a terrible time for them.

“They dominated this Test match and deserved to have a crack at us today. It’s a real fair assessment to say we’ve been saved by the rain.”

Du Plessis is no stranger to blockathons having saved a Test in Australia in 2012 when he scored his maiden Test century and occupied the crease for 466 minutes, he would also perform a rescue mission against India at the Wanderers in 2013 batting for 395 minutes.

While his partner De Kock is ludicrously talented many would question his ability to block out a day and he would likely have preferred a more attacking approach.

Du Plessis added: “You can’t expect Quinny to do exactly the same because he will possibly get out doing something like that but he will put pressure on the opposition by scoring like that.

“If New Zealand had got a wicket early doors it would have been tough for us to get through that.”

The skipper was delighted to end the season with a series win but was less than pleased with how the team played.

He went on: “We didn’t play great cricket but we still won.

“We had a roadmap of how we can get there and visualised getting there, and we are here today. Although I am disappointed with this Test, it doesn’t take away the unbelievable achievements we’ve had this season.

“New Zealand played some good cricket, especially Kane.

“I would like to congratulate him on a good series. Two hundreds out of three games is extraordinary.”