The Proteas will take a 191-run lead to the fifth and final day against the Black Caps, thanks to Dean Elgar’s 89.
It was tough out there for the Proteas today. While none of the batsmen really displayed the impetus to take the game away from the Kiwis, Elgar and Faf du Plessis did a steady job to ensure they place themselves into a safe position.
The left-arm pace of Trent Boult and Neil Wagner put in excellent shifts, but this pitch belongs to the spinners now, and Jeetan Patel, aided by Mitchell Santner, should be confident of peeling away at the tail in the morning session.
Given that the Proteas’ lead is still a delicate one, we should be in for an intriguing contest on Sunday, and Keshav Maharaj will have a huge role to play. The Black Caps, however, will leave day four wondering if things could have gone differently.
A rain delay, and further frustration with bad light, halted proceedings in the morning session, but JP Duminy still had enough time to dish up plenty of opportunities after Hashim Amla departed for 24.
A failed Trent Boult review kicked off proceedings, before Duminy was dropped on seven at first slip by Tom Latham. Then the Kiwis turned down the chance to review an lbw appeal that would have hit the stumps when he was on 20, before flashing one through the slips the very next delivery. Elgar was dropped twice throughout his knock, and survived a review himself.
Wagner proved why the selectors see more value in him than in Tim Southee. Incessant pressure, built from uncomfortable lengths, has been the story of his Test, and he had his second of the day when he trapped the scratchy Duminy lbw for 39.
Skipper Faf du Plessis was slow-going – he went into the final session on 16 off 73 balls – but he was a rock in a difficult last session, finishing the day on 56. With Vernon Philander at the crease and the tail to come, Du Plessis will need to walk out with a clear game plan.
He built up a crucial 80-run stand with Elgar, who was eyeing up becoming the first South African to score twin centuries since Jacques Kallis achieved the feat over six years ago against India. He attempted a rare attacking shot, only to sky it into the hands of Kane Williamson for 89.
Temba Bavuma was unlucky to be seen off for six, as a regulation block shot off Santner spun back onto his stumps. Maharaj will be ‘pleased’ with the way De Kock was dismissed, as Patel pitched one on leg stump, only for the ‘keeper to be see his off-stump rattled for four.
Good luck predicting this one. If the weather holds throughout then a result is very much on the cards, but with Ross Taylor unlikely to form a part of the Kiwi middle-order, the Proteas will be fairly satisfied with their hard graft so far.
Photo: Dianne Manson/Getty Images