Steyn returned 5 for 33 as New Zealand could manage only 195 in 58.2 overs after it had been set a target of 400. That meant South Africa took the two-match series 1-0. With the first match lost to rain, South Africa retained its record of never having lost a Test series to New Zealand.
Only Henry Nicholls was able to provide resistance for New Zealand, before being the last man out for 76. While the other batsmen struggled, Nicholls was calm, seemingly with time to spare as he battled South Africa’s pace threat on a tricky pitch. He weathered the storm for 140 balls in an innings that included 12 fours.
South Africa had declared its second innings on 132 for 7, an hour after the start of play on fourth morning, with a massive lead of 399.
The home team got the advantage almost immediately, after Steyn’s opening burst yielded three wickets in his first 10 balls to leave New Zealand reeling. Steyn bowled Tom Latham with the first ball of New Zealand’s second innings, and then had Martin Guptill, Latham’s fellow opener, caught at first slip, also for a first-ball duck.
Latham tried to leave a delivery that lifted sharply and bounced off his raised bat onto the stumps, and Guptill edged one that seamed away.
The magnitude of New Zealand’s task was shown in the second over when Kane Williamson, who top-scored in the first innings with 77, was struck a painful blow on the left hand by a ball from Vernon Philander which reared up off a good length. He required lengthy treatment before resuming his innings. The team physiotherapist went onto the field a couple of times more to tend to Williamson before he was superbly caught behind by Quinton de Kock off Vernon Philander for 5.
In between, Steyn trapped Ross Taylor leg before with an unplayable delivery which stayed low and hit the batsman on the ankle, and at 7 for 4, New Zealand was staring at a quick defeat.
New Zealand dug in for most part of the middle session as Nicholls and BJ Watling offered a stubborn resistance during their dogged 68-run fifth-wicket stand to delay South Africa's quest for a first Test series win since early 2015.
Watling had his share of luck, when Philander tempted him to poke at a fuller delivery that flew towards the slips. However, Stiaan van Zyl failed to latch onto the chance despite diving to his left.
Meanwhile, Nicholls was steady and found the gaps on either side with a few singles and twos. The duo resisted South Africa's potent pace attack for almost two hours before Watling (32) was adjudged leg before wicket to a Dane Piedt delivery that turned back sharply, shortly before tea.
Nicholls brought up his second Test half-century after the break in the company of Mitchell Santner. Santner was beaten a couple of times and even earned a reprieve when Hashim Amla dropped him at first slip, but Steyn broke through the left-arm spinner’s defence to get past Wasim Akram’s tally of 414 Test wickets.
Nicholls not only showed the application to nullify the Steyn threat, but also threaded the gaps with authority, hitting a couple of well-timed fours in an over off Piedt. Dough Bracewell, who came in at No. 7, struck a couple of sixes off Piedt, before being trapped in front by Philander.
South Africa closed in further when a couple of yorkers from Kagiso Rabada claimed Tim Southee and Neil Wagner. Steyn finally ended Nicholls’s stubborn resistance to wrap up the innings and seal an emphatic win.
Earlier in the day, South Africa who resumed on 105 for 6, added 27 runs in 13 overs for the loss of Philander’s wicket, before declaring its second innings. Philander was dismissed when he shouldered arms to a Tim Southee delivery that nipped back to uproot the offstump. Temba Bavuma ended not out on a determined 40 off 113 balls as South Africa set New Zealand a near impossible target on a pitch with unpredictable bounce and widening cracks that eventually proved too difficult to negotiate against a potent attack.
For full scorecard of the match, click here.