WELLINGTON: Henry Nicholls answered his critics with a maiden century to rescue New Zealand on a torrid first day for batsmen in the second Test against South Africa yesterday.
New Zealand, on the back of Nicholls’ 118, recovered from 21 for three to be all out for 268 in Wellington. South Africa lost two wickets for 12 runs and moved on to 24 for two at stumps.
The pressure was on Nicholls when he went to the middle with New Zealand three down and with his Test average of 30.12 from 18 innings putting his position as a number five batsman under scrutiny.
“I was just trying to look to be positive and really decisive and that’s something that held me in good stead,” he said.
“I took a bit of confidence even from the first Test in Dunedin. I wasn’t out there very long (12 off 26) but I felt very good out there and it was nice to continue that.
“There’s always going to be speculation about your spot, but I just tried to stay really clear in my mind and I’ve had great support (from the team) who kept reinforcing for me to go out there and play my game.”
JP Duminy, a batsman part-time spinner who proved South Africa’s most effective bowler with four for 47, said Nicholls showed how to handle the Basin Reserve conditions.
“To play as positive as he did was probably the way to go on a surface like that. Hopefully we can take something out of that and get some success,” he said.
With Keshav Maharaj striking twice, the South African spin pair took six wickets between them in conditions that favoured seam and swing bowling.
“It’s not a wicket you would think spinners will dominate on. But the plan and strategy we had to get wickets was a good one, to bowl a wider line.”
On a day in which 12 wickets fell, Nicholls played an innings of confident drives and cuts against the quicks and sure footwork against spin.