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January 3, 2013
New Zealand 169 for 4 (Brownlie 69*, McCullum 51) and 45 trail South Africa 347 for 8 dec (Petersen 106, De Villiers 67) by 133 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
New Zealand will grasp any consolation after suffering the indignity of being bundled out for 45 in their first innings and avoiding defeat in two days will do for a start. They will resume the third day 133 runs behind with six wickets remaining after South Africa's quick bowlers failed to repeat the havoc of the opening day.
Their chief source of resistance came from Dean Brownlie, who struck a 44-ball half-century to be 69 not out at the close and collected a few bruises to show for his labours after goading Dale Steyn into a hostile conclusion to the second day. The bulk of Brownlie's cricket until three years ago was played in Perth and it showed, too, as he prospered on the back foot, square of the wicket on the off side, in an enterprising post-tea innings.
South Africa were architects of their own frustration as they dropped Brownlie, twice, and Brendon McCullum in the final session. Brownlie escaped twice at gully on 23, Dean Elgar and Alviro Petersen spurning opportunities presented by Steyn and Vernon Philander respectively. Jacques Kallis' attempt to catch McCullum off Steyn at second slip was a worthier effort, but it all contributed to New Zealand adding 133 in the final session.
New Zealand had batted doggedly up to tea, but they had lost Martin Guptill for nought, when he clipped Steyn to midwicket, and Kane Williamson, who looked in the mood for some prolonged blocking until a tempting short delivery from Jacques Kallis jagged off a crack to have him caught at second slip.
New Zealand had lasted only 19.2 overs in the first innings and, if nobody seriously expected a repeat of that, they were vulnerable on a pitch showing signs of unreliable bounce. The strong winds which closed Table Mountain in the build-up to the game and cracked and crusted this Newlands surface threatened to have the final say.
Only when Brownlie began to hit about him did McCullum's mood lighten. For him to bear his responsibilities so heavily was unusual, but he was a new Test captain appointed in controversial circumstances, criticised in some quarters for an overly-optimistic attitude in batting first and then for placing excessively attacking fields in return. If he was ever going to begin a Test innings strokelessly, this was it.
He fell lbw to Robin Petersen, his decision to review the decision owing more to his status and New Zealand's plight than any realistic hope of overturning it. Daniel Flynn's colourless innings ended with extra bounce from Kallis and an inside edge to the wicketkeeper.
If South Africa were not hampering themselves by dropping catches, they were also making a hash of DRS. They failed to challenge umpire Ian Gould's "not out" ruling when to have done so would have won an lbw decision while Williamson was on 4. They then wasted a review when Gould refused a catch at the wicket with Williamson on 9, the ball having brushed the batsman's pocket.
What followed almost brought DRS into disrepute. There was a delay of nearly five minutes before the third umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, gave his decision. In the background at square leg, as endless Hot Spot replays were studied, Hashim Amla's long beard was shown as pure white and made him look like an ancient. There again, as we waited inexplicably for Dharmasena, none of us felt any younger.
Final-session frustrations or not, South Africa must feel the Test is almost won. It was difficult on a summer's day like this, with the Test entirely in command, for a South African player not to feel content, but Dean Elgar would not be happy with his world.
All Elgar had to show for South Africa's series-winning victory against Australia in Perth last month was a pair on Test debut. It was a tough ask, summoned to the tour late and expected to contribute to a series in the balance, and it proved beyond him.
At Newlands, he resumed his Test career in rather gentler circumstances, but he could not take the opportunity. Five minutes before lunch, Trent Boult made one climb outside off stump and he edged it to the wicketkeeper. He walked off shaking his head, his prototype moustache accentuating a mournful countenance.
Elgar got off the mark against his first ball, from Chris Martin, jabbing through square leg, but progression never really came. Two boundaries off Franklin in successive overs flew through slips and gully, one of them with only one hand on the bat. When he was 18, New Zealand could have overturned Rod Tucker's refusal of Boult's lbw appeal, but they failed to review.
New Zealand's seam attack had been on the short side on the first day and their ground-fielding had at times been deplorable. It would not take much to improve such standards and they did. Boult needed only one delivery to account for Alviro Petersen - the first ball of the second over. He had added three to his overnight 103 when he dragged on.
At 38 years old and after 71 Tests, Martin is aware that not too many more top-order batsmen will fall his way before he calls time on his Test career. His long service was rewarded with three more good wickets. Faf du Plessis was caught at gully, searching for one, and he bowled AB de Villiers and Peterson in successive overs immediately after lunch before Smith's declaration.
Bare head glistening with sweat and thick white headband across his forehead, Martin bounded into the crease in the happy manner of a tennis coach at a private club, intent upon communicating enthusiasm before having a knock-up with the members. As far as New Zealand are concerned, the day amounted to more than a knock-up, it was one heck of a rally.
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After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.
Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough