Black Caps deliver some fight to force day four
MARK GEENTY IN PORT ELIZABETH
The usual suspects stood firm for New Zealand, delaying the inevitable as the tourists took the second cricket test into a fourth day against South Africa at St George's Park.
BJ Watling, who topscored with 63 in New Zealand's weak first innings of 121, was unbeaten on 41 at stumps as the tourists reached 157-4 in their follow-on. They still trail by 247 overall, with two days to play and the second new ball 13 overs away.
Newlands centurymaker Dean Brownlie was unbeaten on 44 as the pair added an unbroken 73, having begun their partnership half an hour after the tea break. The South African bowlers tired and the ball stopped swinging in the second half of the day as the dry pitch didn't play as many tricks as expected. Solid technique and cool heads were rewarded.
Just eight New Zealand wickets fell in the day, a vast improvement on their 24 overs of shame on night two when they slumped to 47-6.
Following on 404 behind, and nearly three days to bat, it was a hopeless situation but a final chance for the batsmen to show they'd heeded some of the brutal lessons from South Africa's pacemen, ahead of the home tests against England.
Opener Martin Guptill was most under the microscope after scoring two runs from three innings.
He had some early luck when given out caught behind by umpire Ian Gould, third ball. Guptill challenged, and replays showed Dale Steyn's bouncer hit him on the shoulder.
Guptill and captain Brendon McCullum added 40, their only double-figure partnership of the series. Then having seen off the pacemen, McCullum perished to Robin Peterson's left-arm spin for the third time in as many innings.
He pushed forward to a straight one and was trapped lbw, having battled 118 deliveries for 24 runs across both innings.
Kane Williamson also found Peterson's spin too tough to handle, bowled by one which kept low to end a torrid series where he hadn't topped 15.
Guptill had only scored one half-century (53 in Bangalore) from his last 10 test innings and was on the verge of another. He played late and didn't go hard at the ball in a much improved showing. But on 48, after 155 minutes at the crease, he was beaten by a good one that nipped back from Rory Kleinveldt.
Then it looked like a three-day test as Daniel Flynn was nicked out, first ball, to a needless drive.
Watling showed the best technique against pace in the team, closely followed by Brownlie, and the pair marched on. They cashed in on the wide offerings and kept out the straight ones as some kept low but not too many spat from the pitch. Part-timers Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen even got a bowl before stumps.
Steyn, after his five-wicket bag in the first innings, wasn't as sharp and left the field for a period. At stumps Steyn had 0-41 off 13, and he and Morne Morkel had bowled 26 wicketless overs between them.
Their first innings lasted a tick over 90 minutes on day three, largely thanks to Watling and some late blows from Trent Boult, as Steyn ran through the tail.
Steyn was fired up and grabbed his 19th bag of five wickets as he finished with a spell of 6-5-3-3. His final haul was 5-17 off 13 overs, one of them a gimme against Jeetan Patel who again backed away to leg and had his stumps shattered.
Just as New Zealand threatened the lowest first innings score at St George's Park, 84 by South Africa against England in 1889, the last pair added 59.
Watling and Boult's stand was a New Zealand 10th wicket record against South Africa, beating Richard de Groen and Simon Doull's 57 in Johannesburg in 1994-95, the last test the Black Caps won in the republic.
Watling hit 13 fours in his 133-minute knock as he took the attack to Kleinveldt, while Boult (17 not out) showed his hitting prowess when breaking a window at long-off.
SCOREBOARD at lunch on day three of the second test at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth:
First innings 525-8 dec
First innings (47-6 overnight)
M Guptill c Petersen b Steyn 1
B McCullum c Kallis b Peterson 13
K Williamson c Smith b Steyn 4
D Brownlie c de Villiers b Kleinveldt 10
D Flynn lbw b Kleinveldt 0
B Watling c Smith b Morkel 63
C Munro c Elgar b Peterson 0
D Bracewell c de Villiers b Steyn 7
N Wagner lbw b Steyn 0
J Patel b Steyn 0
T Boult not out 17
Extras (lb 5, wd 1) 6
Total (44.4 overs) 121
Fall: 1-2 (Guptill), 2-8 (Williamson), 3-27 (Brownlie), 4-27 (Flynn), 5-39 (McCullum), 6-39 (Munro), 7-61 (Bracewell), 8-62 (Wagner), 9-62 (Patel), 10-121 (Watling).
Bowling: D Steyn 13-5-17-5 (1w), M Morkel 12.4-6-26-1, R Kleinveldt 11-3-53-2, R Peterson 7-2-20-2, J Kallis 1-1-0-0.
Second innings (157-4)
M Guptill b Kleinveldt 48
B McCullum lbw b Peterson 11
K Williamson b Peterson 11
D Brownlie not out 44
D Flynn c de Villiers b Kleinveldt 0
BJ Watling not out 41
Extras (lb 1, w 1) 2
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?