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April 30, 2006
The match only threatened to come alive when Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel struck in quick succession, leaving South Africa 33 short of the follow-on with five wickets in hand, just about keeping New Zealand's interest in squaring the series alive. Vettori trapped Amla with an arm ball - although there was the thinnest of inside edges - and Patel's strike to remove AB de Villiers on the stroke of tea had opened a small window for the Kiwis. But it was slammed, or rather eased shut, by Prince and Mark Boucher. At no stage did the conditions hint at a clatter of wickets and that was the only way New Zealand were going to be able to force a result.
For the majority of the morning it was one-way traffic as Amla and Kallis bedded in on a surface that offered precious little encouragement to the bowlers. There was a hint of turn, but the pitch has not broken up as had been expected.
Vettori was disappointing, dropping too short and allowing the batsmen to pick him off for ones and twos. Kallis creamed a series of delightful drives which left the fielders motionless, and led to a change of tact from Stephen Fleming. As soon as the new ball was available it was taken and James Franklin found a hint of movement and maintained a probing line.
By this point Kallis had departed in a somewhat tame manner, scooping an attempted pull to mid-on after the ball held up off the surface. However, Amla pressed on with the knowledge that it was not about how quickly South Africa scored - it was all about occupation of the crease. He continued to knock away the loose deliveries with Patel showing the first signs of tiring as he approached 40 overs on his debut. But when Vettori got the benefit of Amla's decision, and Patel was rewarded for preservence, South Africa would have had a twitchy tea interval.
However, as with Kallis, it was a situation made for Prince and he went about making the most of chance of a sizeable score. New Zealand needed a quick strike in the final session, but Boucher was quickly into his effective counterattacking style, sweeping and nudging the spinners to distraction. Once the pair took the deficit below 200 a collective weight was removed from South African shoulders.
The zip clearly vanished from the Kiwis allowing Prince and Boucher to ease along in what has become a quest for personal milestones. The daily dose of bad light arrived on cue to allow some aching bodies to head for the dressing room. Prince will know a fourth century is there for the taking tomorrow and, after a season of battling away on tough pitches, the South Africans will want to eke every last run from this surface. It will be one for the purists.
Graeme Smith c and b Patel 25 (36 for 1)
Chipped back off toe of bat
Boeta Dippenaar b Patel 47 (108 for 2)
Bottom edge attempted cut
Jacques Kallis c Martin b Oram 71 (252 for 3)
Miscued a pull to mid-on
Hashim Amla lbw b Vettori 149 (344 for 4)
Played forward to an arm ball, but a thin edge
AB de Villiers c Papps b Patel 13 (361 for 5)
Prodded forward, inside-edge to short-leg
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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