Wellington, March 18 (IANS) A career-best Test haul by slow left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj helped South Africa thrash New Zealand by eight wickets within three days of the second cricket Test at the Basin Reserve here on Saturday.
Maharaj came up with figures of 6/40 to bundle New Zealand out for a meagre 171 post the tea session in their second innings after the visitors earned a vital 91-run lead in the first essay.
In response, the Proteas lost little sweat to chase down the paltry 80-run target with Hashim Amla (38 not out) and Jean Paul Duminy (15 not out) forging a 35-run unbeaten third wicket stand.
The South Africans, however lost the opening duo of Stephen Cook (11) and Dean Elgar (17) in their chase.
Earlier, New Zealand's top order again struggled, slipping to 90/5, then the last five wickets were whisked away for 16 runs in 36 deliveries.
The Kiwis' weakness to spin once again came to the fore after the middle and lower order batsmen succumbed to the slow left-armer's guile and spin on a ground not famed for the role of the slower bowlers.
While pacer Morne Morkel claimed two wickets in his opening spell, including Kane Williamson (1) for his second failure of the match, before Maharaj removed Henry Nicholls (7) and James Neesham (4) in the space of five deliveries with New Zealand still a run behind.
Opener Jeet Raval, who made a gusty career-best 80, got three lives before he was finally stumped by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Raval and stumper B.J. Watling (29) provided some resistance with a 65-run sixth wicket stand until tea but post that it was Maharaj's one-man show all the way.
South Africa's chase was without much difficulty although Cook completed two lean Tests when he edged to the slips while Elgar top-edged a swipe against Neil Wagner moments before the extra half hour was taken, leaving Amla and Duminy to complete the formalities and give the Proteas a 1-0 lead before heading to Hamilton.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 268 and 171 (Jeet Raval 80, B.J. Watling 29, Keshav Maharaj 6/40) lose to South Africa 359 and 83/2 (Hashim Amla 38 not out) by eight wickets.