The Proteas are on the verge of winning the series as Dale Steyn took three wickets in 11 balls to leave NZ reeling on 18-4.
New Zealand were never expected to get the 400 runs needed to win, but the extent of this carnage wasn’t quite expected either. The Kiwi top-order were blown away by a combination of lethal deliveries from Steyn and frighteningly unhelpful pitch conditions, to put them on the brink of a comprehensive defeat.
The hosts have been clinical in this match and have made the right decisions at key times. Choosing not to enforce the follow on was one of them, evident by the way the pitch has deteriorated on day four.
Declaring on 132-7 early on the stroke of drinks in the morning session was another, handing New Zealand what would be a record chase on South African soil.
400 was clearly the mark Faf du Plessis wanted to get to. There wasn’t too much urgency from Temba Bavuma and Vernon Philander, as they plodded their way to a watchful 31-run stand.
Philander left a straight one and was bowled for 14 by Tim Southee. Dane Piedt came in and faced 15 scoreless deliveries. Bavuma, stagnant on 40, prompted stand-in skipper Du Plessis to say enough is enough.
Take nothing away from Bavuma, however. In the circumstances, every run was valuable to get them where they wanted to be with five and a half sessions remaining.
Then they showed just how valuable it was to bat third instead of fourth, or rather, Dale Steyn did. Tom Latham tried to leave the first delivery of the innings, only for extra bounce to smash the ball on the elbow and clatter on to the wickets for a golden duck.
Then, for the fifth time in Test history, both openers were removed for golden ducks, as Martin Guptill poked at one just outside off to nick it to Hashim Amla.
South Africa were on the right end of this stat the last time this happened, and it involved Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvin Atapattu in Kandy in 2000. Shaun Pollock and Nantie Hayward were the destroyers back then.
The woes continued for the tourists. Kane Williamson was struck on the finger by another Vernon Philander delivery that gained extra bounce. He battled on, but Ross Taylor couldn’t, and really by no fault of his own. Steyn bowled what was effectively a pea-roller to get him lbw for another duck.
Williamson’s resistance didn’t last long as Philander got in on the act to force an excellent catch from Quinton de Kock.
Henry Nicholls (7) and BJ Watling (5) will look to continue what is surely a forlorn battle in the second session.
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