Vernon Philander took two wickets in the first innings    AFP
Vernon Philander took two wickets in the first innings AFP

When drizzle at Kingsmead on Day Two of the first Test had stopped play from resuming, a thundering Dale Steyn and his partner-in-crime Vernon Philander had just reminded of their past successes against New Zealand. While a washed out first Test due to the adverse wet outfield did steal away what would have perhaps been a spectacular show of pace bowling from the seamers six days later the second Test between South Africa and New Zealand has brought out the ‘swing and bounce demons’ from the earth at SuperSport Park in Centurion. The Day Three saw 13 wickets fall, 12 of them were picked up by fast bowlers. Of course, the seamers from both the teams needed a few verbals just to ruffle the feathers of the batsmen, but for most of Day Three, the ball did the talking. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: South Africa vs New Zealand, 2nd Test at Centurion

In an era when a top-edge carrying all the way for six makes viewers happy and not leave them wondering about why a bowler has to be on the receiving end of it most of the time; when the debate around the dimensions of bats and their sizes is gathering very few voices, the second Test at Centurion will be remembered for some of the best fast bowling on exhibition. Just two days after a T20 match between in India and West Indies saw an aggregate of 489 runs being scored, making bowlers look absolutely helpless, Day Three came as a delight to every aspiring fast bowler.

The first session had to be a tough one for Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, the overnight batsmen for New Zealand to survive. They did manage to build a 50-run partnership but, the pressure was building on Nicholls. Kagiso Rabada, steaming in with pace, hurled a few short balls and bouncers at him. While those made him uncomfortable, he was out to a full delivery, that wrapped him on the pads. Probably beaten by Rabada’s pace. READ: Day Report, 2nd Test, Day 3: South Africa hold tight despite early collapse vs New Zealand

Steyn and Philander having found an opening soon seeped through. BJ Watling got a slight touch of the glove off Steyn, to which de Kock made no mistake, and then Mitchell Santner was bowled after getting an inside-edge. Bracewell did stay on for a while, along with Williamson who was playing the role of a lone warrior, losing wickets at the other end. But Rabada soon got rid of Bracewell too. The only wicket to spin was that of Southee and when he was back in the pavilion, New Zealand were reeling at 169 for 8.

In came Neil Wagner to bat. A fast bowler who loves bowling bouncers and testing the batsmen. With Rabada in fine rhythm, oozing with self-belief, the first ball to Wagner was a bouncer that hit him on the helmet. Wagner took his eyes off the ball and tried to duck but, boom. That was how he welcomed, with a taste of his own medicine.

An eventful stay at the crease saw Wagner score 30, during which he also smashed Steyn for 18 runs. He became Steyn’s victim though, trying to hook, getting a thin edge to Watling.

A calm, composed Williamson, who had knit a 77-run knock till then, was eventually forced to play a pull shot, that led to the end of New Zealand’s first innings at 214, giving South Africa, a 267-run lead. Faf du Plessis didn’t want to enforce a follow-on.

And just when it looked like the hosts would run riot and score runs with ease, the Black Caps’ new ball bowlers almost woke up fresh, matured, raring-to-go. With precise line and length, they added that pressure on South Africa’s batsmen. Of course not before, Quinton de Kock, already having made a fine start to his opening position role in the Test side, after a first innings score of 82, struck four boundaries in Trent Boult’s first over and followed it with 10 runs in Southee’s next over.

But then, Southee and Boult fought back to take 3 wickets in 2 overs. First Stephen Cook was trapped in front. Then Hashim Amla edged it to slip. And JP Duminy too, lbw, for a duck. New Zealand had needed early strikes to bring life back into the Test, and they got just that.

There was seam movement on offer; some straightened, some swung away, some were angled in. New Zealand bowlers had found what was missing in the first innings. Probably the pitch had quickened up a bit too, but Southee and Boult, and later Bracewell and Wagner made it very difficult for the batsmen. There were edges, the batsmen had to duck to plenty of deliveries; the bowlers were dominating.

Du Plessis was Boult’s victim. A centurion in the first innings, du Plessis was out for just 6, edging a delivery that held its line and nicked his bat to hand Ross Taylor a simple catch.

Only de Kock looked as if he was playing on a different pitch, often playing upper cuts off short balls. But just after registering his fourth Test fifty, he was out too. A bouncer targeted at his body from Bracewell, gave him no room to play the upper cut, and came off his glove to hand Williamson a sitter at gully.

Almost throughout the second innings, New Zealand’s seamers bowled a threatening line. Bowling in the corridor of uncertainty, they had the batsmen in two minds, whether to play or leave. Stiaan van Zyl was the last man out on Day Three. He was perhaps, expecting a bouncer from the man who loves to bowl them, Wagner, but a fuller delivery had his name written on it, as he edged it to Watling.

A fine day of Test cricket ended with South Africa at 105 for 6 and their lead stretched to 372 runs, but the day had been a classic, thanks to the fast bowlers. The mad, vocal, fearsome, venomous fast bowlers.

(Karan Dewan, a reporter with CricketCountry, loves following and playing sports. He is a Team India fan and loves winning. Follow him on his twitter handle @karan13dewan)