x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

South Africa miss top ranking after draw in New Zealand

Dropped catches and rain in the series denied the Proteas a 3-0 result they needed to topple England.

WELLINGTON // Graeme Smith rued the dropped chances yesterday that, combined with poor weather, halted South Africa's march to the top of the world Test rankings.

South Africa had the opportunity to claim the top spot if they swept the Tests 3-0, but rain washed out the final day of the first Test in Dunedin and more than seven hours in the next Test in Wellington.

The final Test in Wellington ended in a draw yesterday but it is likely to have produced a South Africa victory had the tourists not twice dropped Kane Wiliamson, who went on to make a match-saving 102 not out.

"We missed some opportunities today that would have allowed us to win two-nil [but] … I think [one-nil] is a fair reflection," Smith said.

"We've pretty much been on the front foot throughout this Test series … The weather played a big part in Dunedin and here."

New Zealand had been riding high on confidence after victory over Australia late last year, and while they showed glimpses of that kind of level of play against the Proteas, they were unable to sustain it.

"I think they deserved to win the series, don't get me wrong," Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand vice-captain, told reporters.

"I think they've been the better team throughout.

"We had them on the ropes at times but I think one-nil [in the Test series] is probably a fair reflection from looking at it."