South Africa v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Johannesburg May 6, 2006

New Zealand fight to stay in the hunt

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New Zealand 119 and 214 for 6 (Oram 19*, Vettori 21*) lead South Africa 186 (Smith 63, Amla 56, Martin 5-37) by 147 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out



Dale Steyn is cleaned up by Chris Martin for 0 as New Zealand battled back © Cricinfo/Neil Lane
A rapidly fluctuating Test has been left intriguingly poised as New Zealand fought back strongly through Chris Martin and a scrapping performance from their batsmen. Martin bagged five as South Africa's lead was restricted to 67, the last six wickets falling in 11 overs of the morning session, then battling contributions from Nathan Astle and Scott Styris edged the lead towards 150. However, Dale Steyn struck three crucial blows as South Africa kept proceedings under control.

The second day began by following a similar manic pace to yesterday as wickets tumbled, including eight before lunch. But only one batsman slipped during the afternoon session as New Zealand edged in front, before the final portion of the day included three scalps for a relieved Graeme Smith, who won't want to chase much more than 200 in the last innings.

When Jamie How and Michael Papps fell before lunch, New Zealand were 40 for 2, still 27 behind, and a two-day finish was a distinct possibility. Stephen Fleming weathered the early passage of the afternoon session, after taking a painful blow on the hip at the start of his innings, but fell to a flashy drive against Jacques Kallis.

For Kallis it was a special moment, joining Sir Garfield Sobers as only the second man to score 8000 runs and take 200 wickets in Tests. Kallis's celebration of the wicket was more exuberant than usual as he crossed another milestone in his career.

South Africa, though, found wickets harder to come by as Styris and Astle mixed authentic strokes with a fair amount of wafting. The slips cordon was always on its toes, but Smith was forced into a slightly more defensive mode as edges flew wide of fielders rather than to hand. Astle refused to shelve his attacking instincts and it was a high-risk strategy, but for over an hour he flourished. Styris was more circumspect, and was regularly beaten by late away movement, but hung during a vital stand of 76, by far New Zealand's best of the match.



Jacques Kallis became only the second player to take 200 wickets and score 8000 runs in Tests © AFP
With the lead approaching three figures, Smith was searching hard for a wicket and Steyn delivered as Astle finally edged a pitched-up away swinger. It turned into a double-breakthrough when Styris played one pull to many and Steyn held on - something he'd earlier failed to do, at long-leg, off Papps. South Africa dropped three other hard chances and, although none proved hugely costly, this could yet be a match decided by the small margins

Both sides have had their share of rough decisions in recent times and New Zealand suffered again when Brendon McCullum was sent on his way by Asoka de Silva, with Pollock squeezing a delivery between bat and pad. Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori managed to negotiate the remaining time, before an impending thunderstorm halted play, and they showed that batting is slightly easier against an older ball.

South Africa's first-innings demise had been caused by incisive spells from Martin and James Franklin during an action-packed first hour. Franklin dispatched de Villiers and Mark Boucher - a rough lbw decision - while Martin clocked up impressive speed and extracted extravagant lift off the pitch.

Martin pinned Ashwell Prince back in the crease before sending a delivery slightly wider, which Prince pushed at with little footwork, and Andrew Hall was also far from happy when he was adjudged in front. At 145 for 8, Pollock realised there was not much point in hanging around and signalled his intent by charging down the track and planting Franklin onto the grass bank. Ntini helped to add 25 runs - worth at least twice as many in the conditions - and Pollock hooked Franklin over deep square-leg in an over that cost 15.

The significance of Pollock's 20-ball cameo grew as New Zealand's openers again fell cheaply. Steyn trapped How with a peach of a delivery that straightened onto middle and Papps joined the procession of batsmen edging behind the wicket. Four sessions had brought 22 wickets and South Africa were sensing a quick kill. However, both sides then traded equal blows and the outcome of this series is still up for grabs.

How they were out

South Africa - overnight 133 for 4

AB de Villiers c Styris b Franklin 2 (139 for 5)
Pushed away from body, thick edge to second slip

Mark Boucher lbw b Franklin 0 (139 for 6)
Jagged back, pitched outside leg, too high

Ashwell Prince c McCullum b Martin 4 (139 for 7)
Pushing away from his body, outside edge

Andrew Hall lbw b Martin 5 (145 for 8)
Nipped back, doubt over the height

Dale Steyn b Martin 0 (161 for 9)
Beaten for pace

Makhaya Ntini c McCullum b Mills (186 all out)
Regulation edge

New Zealand

Jamie How lbw b Steyn 4 (9 for 1)
Ball straightened, taking out middle and off

Michael Papps c Hall b Kallis 15 (40 for 2)
Squared-up, edge to second slip

Stephen Fleming c de Villiers b Kallis 37 (82 for 3)
Expansive drive to second slip

Nathan Astle c Boucher b Steyn 45 (158 for 4)
Nicked a full, swinging delivery with no footwork

Scott Styris c and b Steyn 42 (177 for 5)
Top-edged an ambitious pull

Brendon McCullum c Boucher b Pollock 5 (190 for 6)
Between bat and pad, clipped pad flap, no inside edge

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo