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Fire alarm forces stoppage in Dunedin

A fire alarm prompted a full ground evacuation at the University Oval, where play was stopped for 20 minutes in the third session. There was neither imminent danger nor any damage caused after steam caused the alarm to go off in the grandstand, which was the first to be emptied. Spectators, numbering 3296, were asked to leave their seats and dispatched to the rims of the ground while players and match officials were sent onto the field while the cause of the alarm was investigated.

Within minutes of the alarm being sounded, a fire engine arrived on the scene but it was not needed. The grass banks were the next to be cleared out before the buildings on the northern end of the ground, which includes the television commentary team, were also cleared onto the adjacent rugby field.

Although the exact cause of the steam is not yet known, the situation was quickly assessed as being under control and fans were allowed back in. With heavy cloud cover and cool temperatures, not as many of them returned, putting a damper on what had been well-attended, albeit feisty, day at the ground.

None of the players were too perturbed by the interruption although both sides lamented the loss of the crowd,after they were allowed back in. "The biggest shame was that the crowd left and it was quite a good atmosphere," BJ Watling, New Zealand's wicket-keeper said.

South Africa have been involved in some unusual breaks in play recently - the ODI against Sri Lanka last month was stopped after a bee invasion - but of the players, Keshav Maharaj has seen a fire alarm stoppage before. "It was on a South Africa A tour to Australia last year, we were sitting in the change room and the fire alarm went off. So I guess it was nothing new to me," he said.

Earlier in the day, some spectators were ushered out by security officials for being too rowdy while on day two, 35 people were ejected for the same reason.