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South Africa lucky to nab draw: Du Plessis

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/03/2017 Angelo Risso

Captain Faf du Plessis of South Africa © Dave Rowland/Getty Images Captain Faf du Plessis of South Africa South African skipper Faf du Plessis has acknowledged Test adversaries New Zealand can count themselves a little unlucky after persistent drizzle killed off the fifth day of their series decider in Hamilton.

Not a single ball was delivered at Seddon Park on Wednesday after a sub-par Proteas showing in the previous day's action, falling to 80-5 in the late session.

The destructive Quinton de Kock and talisman du Plessis were at the crease at stumps on day four, giving the Proteas some reason for hope, but the early removal of either batsman on Wednesday would've all but guaranteed a Kiwi victory and tied series.

Instead, the heavens have come to du Plessis' rescue and gifted his side a 1-0 series win ahead of their two-month international cricket hiatus.

"From a team perspective we were still very driven in making sure we do whatever it takes to get through," du Plessis told reporters.

"(But) they dominated this Test and deserved to have a crack at us today.

"It's a real fair assessment to say we've been saved by the rain."

On the whole, du Plessis was pleased with only half his touring squad, which picked up two draws and coasted to victory in Wellington after the Kiwis imploded.

With the ball, Morne Morkel re-established himself as a bona fide seaming star after a 14-month injury lay-off, while spinner Keshav Maharaj was the Proteas find of the summer.

Young gun Kagiso Rabada also goes from strength to strength.

But the South African performance with the willow was another matter entirely - particularly that of the openers and specialist batsmen.

Of the top seven's combined 39 Test innings on Kiwi soil, only 10 progressed past the 50-mark - and just the single, by Dean Elgar in Dunedin, hit triple figures.

"You're playing with your backs against the wall most of the time as a batting unit," the 32-year-old du Plessis said.

"That's a real concern for me and something we need to step up and be better at."

Nevertheless, the 1-0 victory on Kiwi soil hands du Plessis' Proteas the No.2 world Test ranking after series wins against Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand twice since August last year.

Tests against England, Bangladesh, India and Australia in next summer's campaign will also give them the chance to become world No.1.

"To lift ourselves up from a real challenge last year, to turn it around like we did, has been extraordinary," du Plessis said.

"The goal was to get back to No.1 and we had a roadmap of how we can get there and visualised getting there and we are here today."

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