Kane Williamson finished on 176 as New Zealand crept to an 83-run lead at lunch on day four in Hamilton.
Time is running out for New Zealand to win this Test and draw the three-game series. Five sessions remain in the match, and with inclement weather expected late on day four and again on day five, you’d have to say that the odds are against the hosts forcing a favourable result.
The Black Caps showed no great urgency in the first session. Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner survived for two hours before the skipper – who had played brilliantly up to that point for his 176 – was caught in the deep off the bowling of Morné Morkel.
Williamson surpassed Scott Styris (170 in 2003/04) for the highest Test score against South Africa in New Zealand. The Black Caps captain and Santner put on 88 runs for the fifth wicket. And yet, the pair could be criticised for scoring slowly rather than taking the fight to the Proteas bowlers.
Santner fell in the final over before lunch. Kagiso Rabada was rewarded for some accurate bowling when the left-handed batsmen edged the ball to JP Duminy in the gully. The dismissal saw South Africa leaving the field with their tails up.
Overall, New Zealand scored 86 runs in the extended two-and-a-half hour session. The hosts will need to up the scoring rate in the second session and amass a substantial lead in order to put pressure on the Proteas. If New Zealand don’t lose their remaining five wickets, a declaration will need to be made at tea or not long afterwards.
As it stands, South Africa are in a strong position. The ball is starting to turn on this Seddon Park surface and batting may be more challenging later on day four. However, the Kiwis will have to bat last on this pitch.
SA 314 (1st innings) – Quinton de Kock 90, Faf du Plessis 53, Matt Henry 4-93, Neil Wagner 3-104
NZ 397-6 (1st innings) – Kane Williamson 176, Jeet Raval 88, Morné Morkel 3-90, Kagiso Rabada 3-109
New Zealand lead by 83 runs