New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 4th day March 10, 2012

New Zealand must show patience

Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum are naturally aggressive but must learn from Jacques Kallis to wait for run-scoring opportunities as they attempt a record chase

There's a certain bullishness about sportsmen in New Zealand that is similar to the famous Australian fighting spirit. New Zealanders might not like that comparison, given the big brother-little brother rivalry between the two countries, but they will not mind the positive words from the Australian assistant coach of the New Zealand cricket team, Tom Woodhill.

Woodhill, a New South Welshman, was firm that New Zealand were in with a chance of victory against South Africa in Dunedin, despite facing a daunting target of 401. "If we get two good partnerships, and the weather holds, then we'll have a match to win," Woodhill said, and made a distinct gesture to sit up straight in his chair, lean forward a little threateningly and widen his eyes. "We're confident. We're playing the best team or the second best team in the world at the moment, and we're going into day five of the Test match with a chance to win it."

For New Zealand to win the Test, they will have to complete their highest successful run chase. It will require Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor to bat even better than they did on the fourth day. They will have to show more patience and somehow balance that with attack, on a pitch which was still good for batting on the fourth day, though showing some signs of getting slower. "We have to make sure that one of them goes real big and the other goes pretty big," Woodhill said.

Towards the end of the day, after both had battled through tough periods, McCullum and Taylor started playing a few more shots, a risky choice given what has happened to batsmen, bar Graeme Smith, who have done that so far in this match. In the previous three innings, whenever batsmen showed a greater desire to attack, they created a greater risk of losing their wickets, and often did.

New Zealand's batsmen would do well to learn from Jacques Kallis, who played a trademark knock of supreme calm. He left more deliveries than he played, and crafted an innings of grit, concentrating on spending time at the crease and waiting for run-scoring opportunities rather than actively looking for them.

Woodhill said New Zealand's batsmen had watched Kallis and that McCullum, who reached 58 not out, was already showing signs of being prepared to battle for long. "They'd be crazy if they haven't learned from Kallis' innings. There's a simplicity to the way Kallis plays that is so pure. Watching Kallis up close, they've seen things in his game that they can transfer to their game.

"South Africa are a great side but we are also a really good side. We are learning and getting better all the time, and it's a valuable lesson to sit and watch the game. Baz [McCullum] has used the crease well and got down to the other end quickly as well. He also left really well."

New Zealand need another 264 runs to get on the fifth day, so do not have to score particularly quickly if the weather allows a full day's play. Woodhill said they would have to be watchful early and wait till South Africa start experimenting. "At the start, they will probably go pretty straight at us, trying to take wickets. If we bat well, they will have to try some different things. When they do try to bowl a bit wider, hopefully there will be some runs there. But we have to make sure we don't go chasing balls to sixth and seventh stump."

There were some signs of turn for Imran Tahir late on the fourth day and Jacques Rudolph said he could be South Africa's "X-factor" on the final day. Woodhill, though, was not convinced that spin would play that big a role. "It's slow turn off the pitch. There's some rough there but the track is playing true at the moment.

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 10, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    This is one of those situations where, as a partnership develops, you slowly allow yourself to hope but, as soon as a wicket falls, that hope can all but evaporate as wickets can then fall steadily thereafter. A win is not entirely out of the question but I'd say that the weather is NZ's only realistic chance of avoiding defeat. They really needed to do better in that first innings. As an England fan, I obviously don't want SA to win 3-0 so that England can retain the #1 spot but I don't really want that to happen because of rain. For England's and NZ's sake, I would like NZ to deservedly save or even win at least one match. If they win this one they will deserve it but it's a fine line between keeping your wickets in tact and trying to score the runs. England are perfect examples of how playing negatively can have the exact opposite of the intended effect and NZ are not defensively minded batsmen. They just need to play sensibly and hope the luck goes their way.

  • Binoj on March 10, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    Clash between the strategies of two former Indian coaches, wow! Looking forward for a enthralling series.

  • Navi on March 10, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    Its all on Baz. If he stays till end and dont play any stupid shot like in the first inning, we should be able to chase it but i don't see him making 100 cuz i have seen him throwing his wicket away soo many times as soon he reach his 50. Lets see....

  • Anshuman on March 10, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    Looking forward to a great 5th day, hope it's a close contest that goes down to the last few overs. But just checked the weather, it looks really bad :((

  • Cameron on March 10, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    In Test cricket history, there have only been four successful run chases of 400+ and only two after a declaration - none of them by NZ. The highest successful run chase NZ have ever made was 324 vs Pakistan. Weirdly, three of the five top UNsuccessful run chases belong to NZ - all 430+ and all vs England. So history is really not on their side, and as Cricketing Stargazer says, all it takes is a brainfade from either Baz or Taylor and then it's a looong tail and probably one and a half sessions of misery.

    But hey, stranger things have happened.

  • Mark on March 10, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    It would be great to think that New Zealand could get 401 and add the scalp of South Africa to that of Australia, but this kind of result happens maybe once in every hundred chases. Realistically, both batsmen need to get a century and one of them go past 150 to make it a realistic possibility. It's not impossible, but one early wicket would, most likely, see South Africa winning by mid-afternoon. There is no room for error. No room for throwing even one wicket away. They need to bat as if their lives depend on it. Which side would you back in the circumstances?

  • No featured comments at the moment.