South African skipper Dean Elgar conceded after securing the Test win against New Zealand to level the two-match series 1-1 on Tuesday that he would have looked an "absolute idiot" had his decision to bat first on February 25 backfired and the Proteas lost the match.South Africa bucked the trend at the Hagley Oval here and elected to bat first, and thanks to a century from Sarel Erwee in the first innings they managed to post 364 and take a 71-run first-innings lead, which proved crucial in the end.
The Proteas then declared their second innings on 354 and bundled out the hosts for 227 to win by 198 runs and take revenge for their innings and 276-run humiliating defeat in the first Test at the same venue.On February 25, Elgar's decision to bat first had surprised New Zealand as in the opening Test, the tourists could only manage 95 runs in the first innings, finally suffering an innings defeat.
"Luckily it paid off for us (the decision to bat first); it was something that might have backfired on us and I would have looked like an absolute idiot. But I'm one of those guys that is willing to live with the decisions I make for the side," Elgar was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz following the big win on Tuesday."We've shown in the past that we've got a lot of characters within our unit and, ultimately, we needed characters to come out again and rise up and make a stand for us to try and level the series."
The Proteas' decision to bat first on a seamer-friendly wicket wasn't the only surprise of the second Test. They also played spinner Keshav Maharaj, who ultimately went on to grab four wickets in the Test, including a 3/75 in the second innings.
Pace bowler Kagiso Rabada, who snared 5/60 in the first innings and 3/46 in the second, said there was a marked difference between the wickets for the two Tests, although the matches were played at the same venue Hagley Oval."This wicket in this Test match was a lot drier just looking at it with the naked eye, and it had a lot less grass on it. When you walked on it, the spikes almost sunk into it."So, that tells you that it's going to be a little bit slow and hopefully when the Test match moved forward the conditions would get drier and the footmarks would be created for Keshav (Maharaj) to exploit. That was the thinking and, in the end, it was the right decision (to bat first and play a spinner)," added Rabada."It was irritating that the rain had to come at that stage (final session, Day 5). I had an idea that the rain would just blow over, the clouds would blow over, but in the back of your head you've got that cynical thought that says 'what if it stays?'."