Kallis leads South African resistance
South Africa 459 and 134 for 3 (Kallis 56*, Gibbs 47) lead New Zealand 509 (Oram 119*, Vettori 53, Pollock 4-98) by 84 runs
Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs fought tooth and nail for survival on a wearing pitch, and gained the upper hand for South Africa with a lead of 84. They came together with their team in dire straits after New Zealand, bolstered by an unbeaten maiden Test century from Jacob Oram, scored 509, and were parted only when a nasty turner from Paul Wiseman dismissed Gibbs a few overs before the close. Kallis sputtered on to 56 not out, and at the end of the fourth day, South Africa had 134 for 3.
South Africa's second innings had begun badly. Graeme Smith played one authoritative stroke, when he clipped Oram to the boundary, but was otherwise troubled by Oram's ability to make the ball hasten off the pitch. But his relief at facing Daryl Tuffey was short-lived, as he flashed hard and nicked one (15 for 1). Then Chris Cairns bowled one into the footmarks, and Jacques Rudolph watched it shoot off the pitch. The next ball was slightly closer to the stumps, and Rudolph, in a monumental miscalculation, shouldered arms (16 for 2).
Gibbs and Kallis came together, and were never entirely settled. With the inconsistent bounce and wild turn, not even the bowlers knew which way the ball would go. Even then, the batsmen put their heads down, and using their pads, wits, and a large amount of luck, ground out the runs. One ball summed up what South Africa were dealing with in their second innings. Bowling to Kallis, Daniel Vettori landed a ball on the hole in the pitch, and it shot across ten feet to first slip.
Kallis played the ball off his legs, often at the last minute, to give himself as much time as possible. When a loose delivery was offered, it was usually hit to the boundary by the desperate but alert batsmen. As Kallis inched towards his fifty, Gibbs found himself in more trouble than usual, with Wiseman turning the ball prodigiously, and duly feathered a huge turner to Brendon McCullum, to be out for 47. But South Africa had squeezed out a lead by then.
While a siege mentality took hold at the end of the day, New Zealand began positively. Vettori (53) drove and pulled with impunity as Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini stuck to a monotonous off-stump line. He was partnered by Oram, who came out looking for runs, and a largely uninspired bowling attack posed no danger to them. Oram's century, which he reached with a push of Jacques Kallis, was a fitting achievement for a man who refused to be flustered as he hauled his team to safety.
Ntini was repeatedly driven down the ground as he sought pace from a slow pitch, and Oram also had enough time to swivel around and smash a good-length ball over midwicket. With only Paul Adams troubling him, Oram took a liking to the faster bowlers, and the hapless Andre Nel in particular. Against Oram and Wiseman, Nel overpitched on leg and off, and was taken apart for 27 runs in three overs. Oram's supreme driving was an exercise in geometry, with the ball rocketing between powerless fielders.
Adams replaced the ineffective Ntini, and extracted sharp bounce off the hole in the pitch, moving the ball this way and that - sometimes exploding and at other times scooting - to give the batsmen the heebie-jeebies. While Oram usually stayed back, he came forward when the ball hit the spot, keeping his bat well behind an outstretched pad.
But as the day went on, the hole and the scuffmarks played a big role, and with a day to go, that part is going to only get bigger.