An overwhelmed Keshav Maharaj hopes his maiden five-wicket haul in the first Test against New Zealand at the University Oval in Dunedin on Friday is a step in the right direction for his young international Test career. His contribution was instrumental in dismissing New Zealand for 341, and was another encouraging sign of the potential and development he continues to make since making his debut in November last year.
Maharaj is the first spinner to take a five-for for South Africa since Robin Peterson’s 5/33 against Bangladesh in 2008. His figures of 5/94 are also the second-best figures at the ground following Daniel Vettori’s 6/56.
"It was very overwhelming," he said of his passionate celebration after the day's play. "I did shed a tear in the changeroom, it means a lot to me. I'm very chuffed with the achievement."
His previous best bowling figures in an innings was 3/56 on debut against Australia in Perth. The 27-year-old was slightly off with his lengths in his performance on Thursday, but bounced back with a disciplined and controlled contribution on day three.
He could have a bigger role to play in the fourth innings of the match – weather permitting – with conditions becoming tougher to bat on as the match progresses.
“I spoke to Hendo (Henderson) yesterday after the day’s play, I was a bit disappointed in the way that I bowled,” the left-arm spinner said. “It was a small technical thing that we addressed along with a change of mindset. I kept it simple today and luckily it paid dividends.
“It’s pretty tough,” he said of the conditions. “There is no pace off the ball and being a bowler with a slower trajectory through the air it makes it a little bit more difficult, but it is a good challenge.
“When the new ball came along it skidded a bit and helped me in my repertoire because the ball wasn’t really turning,” he added. “Towards the end it started kicking a little bit off the footmarks so that was a positive sign.”