Kyle Verreynne and Wiaan Mulder were the last two batters to stand between New Zealand and the tail as South Africa closed the third day of the second Test with 140/5, a 211 run lead, at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Sunday .
After a handy 71 run lead in the first innings, the second innings for the Proteas was an uphill battle, with Neil Wagner’s two afternoon strikes narrowing them to 114/5. But the inexperienced combination of Verreynne (22) and Mulder (10) then resolutely continued with an unbeaten score of 26 to lure South Africa into the trash.
Frustrating for the visitors, Wagner’s two victims, Rassie van der Dussen (45) and Temba Bavuma (23), were both soft fired.
Van der Dussen had survived a scorching time for tea, but looked increasingly strong as left-armer Wagner switched to his signature short-pitch strategy. Van der Dussen took just about everything, was dropped by Colin de Grandhomme at 40 on square-leg, then tried to pull out a hookshot, only to send a return catch back to the bowler.
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Bavuma was well set and looked as likely a candidate as anyone to play a match-winning innings, but then he drove Wagner straight to cover.
Tim Southee had previously cleared both openers, Sarel Erwee (8) and Dean Elgar (13), with quality swing and seam bowling, while Aiden Markram once again looked good, scoring 14 before being bowled by a superb yorker from Matt Henry.
New Zealand had started the day at 157/5, with Daryl Mitchell and De Grandhomme already adding 66 for the sixth wicket. They brought their partnership to 133 before left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who could very well be a key figure in the closing innings, trapped Mitchell lbw for a dogged 60 with a delivery that slipped straight.
New Zealand’s fast bowlers were far less effective with the bat than they had been in the first Test, with Marco Jansen (22-2-98-4) and Kagiso Rabada packing the tail as the Black Caps were knocked out for 293 .
De Grandhomme’s brilliant best innings of 120 not out may not have been fully utilized in the end, but he certainly kept New Zealand in the game. He adapted very well to the different situations in the middle and ended up needing only 158 deliveries for his runs.
Rabada produced another fine, controlled display of fast bowling to finish with 5/60 in 19 overs.