South Africa will look for a lead of around 250 if they are to force the result their way in the Dunedin Test, but they have acknowledged that time may not be on their side. Apart from the possibility of rain shortening or completely washing out the final day, the slow scoring rates which have dominated this Test mean that the visitors may not be able to set a target they are comfortable defending and leave themselves enough overs to bowl New Zealand out a second time.
"We definitely want another 60 or 70 more runs. It's about dictating terms," Neil McKenzie, South Africa's batting coach, said. "The runs are not just going to come in 10 overs - that's the nature of the wicket. We'll have to graft up front. If we can look to take the lead beyond 260 or 270, then dictate when we are going to declare and have a look at them. I'm sure in their dressing room they will be saying that if they can get a few early and run through us, they could chase 220 or 230. Thirty or 40 runs on this sort of wicket makes a huge difference."
New Zealand are similarly skeptical about things speeding up as they go in search of a win. "We might rock and roll them, we might not," Jeetan Patel, New Zealand's offspinner, said. "We may take three hours to bowl them out but it leaves an opportunity to win a Test match and the excitement of that is massive. They (the team) probably need that little bit of confidence to keep going with their season."
Patel was particularly pleased with New Zealand's bowling effort in keeping the scoring rate down even though they did not take all of their chances. "To keep them to 230 over that many overs, is pretty special. The guys need a pat on the back for what they did today," he said.
That New Zealand did it in the absence of Trent Boult, who has a sore hip, only makes Patel prouder. "That's why I say these guys are an amazing bunch," Patel said. "They find a way. Look at Wagner's last spell, it was just as potent as his first. Maybe not so much with the pace or the kilometres on the screen but with the questions that he asked.
"Myself, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neeshan, we've all got roles to play and that's where we just pick up the slack. We've just got to find a way to get over the line and that's all that matters."
Although Patel did not go as far as to say New Zealand would take a psychological advantage from a draw - if that is how this match ends up - he did say the team's first innings lead was "a little win by itself". McKenzie dead-batted any such suggestion.
"The Test has asked questions of both sides and both have stood up reasonably well. I don't think any side, if there is no play tomorrow, will take any momentum or any extra one-ups into the next Test match," McKenzie said. "A lot of the batters have got starts and got runs under their belt,. The bowlers have got a couple of wickets and Keshav Maharaj has got his maiden five-for, which will give him a bit of confidence. A lot of the New Zealand guys have also got something out of it."
With conditions expected to remain similar throughout the series, South Africa may use this match to ponder the make-up of their squad, which only includes one specialist spinner at the moment in Maharaj. New Zealand have showed that a second would not go amiss and even though South Africa may not need one for Wellington, they may call for a second spinner for the final match in Hamilton, which starts from March 25.
"There is talk, given the nature of Hamilton, and having played the one-day games there and see the turn that was offered," McKenzie said. "We are blessed with quite a few options so we will see how the next couple of days pan out. I don't think Wellington will turn as much as Hamilton so we'll have a couple of days to sort things out."
If South Africa send for reinforcements, they will likely choose between offspinner Dane Piedt, left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi or could even recall legspiner Imran Tahir, who has not played a Test since December 2015.
What they won't look for just yet is someone to give Quinton de Kock lessons on how to play spin. De Kock has been dismissed four times by Patel in as many innings, but McKenzie is confident he can turn that around. "It happens in Test cricket. I'm not too worried. Jeetan Patel is a serious player," McKenzie said. "I have played against him and watched him bowl, he's played county cricket for years and is a seasoned professional. He's a quality performer playing against a quality batsman, but I'm sure Quinton will overcome most obstacles. He will think about it and come back a smarter, better player."