Fleming in charge again

Stephen Fleming produced possibly his finest ever test innings today, and his second highest scoring, as New Zealand dominated day 2 of their Test match against South Africa.

Fleming needed support to do this, and James Franklin provided this perfectly. After the early loss of Daniel Vettori, Franklin composed a mature unbeaten 93. Before any of this could happen, most of the first session was lost to bad light.

Once play did get underway, Vettori mistimed a pull to mid on, and New Zealand were at 279-7, with 400 looking unlikely, let alone 500. However, once Fleming and Franklin had got themselves in, and the overcast conditions cleared batting became a lot easier.

Fleming settled down into the elegance more familiar with earlier in his career. Drives and cuts were the shots seen most frequently, helped by South Africa’s wide lines. Franklin took slightly longer to get going. He had no trouble leaving the ball outside off stump, but was shook up by a Makhaya Ntini bouncer which struck him on the helmet.

After shaking this off, Franklin, a number 9 was able to get into his stride. With a similar technique to his captain, he showed that he too can play. Confident shots went to both sides of the wicket, and class and determination were also easy to see.

However good New Zealand were, South Africa were almost as poor. They bowled too wide for out the day, making it too easy for the batsmen to leave. Graeme Smith was to blame as well, leaving the third man region open for countless runs, including those with which Fleming passed 150. The fielders also did little to aid the cause. Dippenaar dropped a relatively simple catch at slip, while Ntini missed an easy run out off his own bowling.

New Zealand carried on throughout the day, Fleming reaching his third Test double hundred, and becoming the first New Zealander to do so. He also cleared the rope to bring up 250, although had the rope been a little deeper, Nicky Boje may have been able to land inside it.

By the end of the day, South Africa brought on part-time bowlers in Smith, Ashwell Prince and Hashim Amla. This was to pay off however, as Prince claimed his first test wicket with Fleming playing on. This brought to an end a partnership of 256 for the eighth wicket, a record both for New Zealand and against South Africa. It was also the end of the day’s play, as the light was taken.

New Zealand completed dominated today, and there may be an overnight declaration, or we may see James Franklin being allowed to reach his maiden Test century. Either way, South Africa need to improve their game, or they will suffer a heavy defeat.

New Zealand 535-8
Stephen Fleming 262, James Franklin 93*
Makhaya Ntini 4-131

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