At Port Elizabeth, November 30, December 1, 2, 3, 4. South Africa won by seven wickets. Toss: South Africa.
"Poor batsmanship and poor option-taking," was how New Zealand captain Fleming explained the disastrous session that determined this match on the fourth day. Between lunch and tea, his side lost five second-innings wickets for 69; when Klusener subsequently took the last three wickets in ten balls, South Africa needed just 86 runs for their fourth successive series win at home since drawing with Pakistan in 1997-98.
Until then, the cricket had been grudging and evenly contested on a pitch that offered bowlers fewer favours than Pollock expected when he inserted the New Zealanders. Donald's absence on the first afternoon with a bruised heel may have dampened South Africa's powder, but Pollock and Ntini gave the batsmen little respite with accurate bowling that produced regular breakthroughs. Ntini supported his captain further when he ran in from fine leg and dived forward to hold McMillan's top-edged hook.
By the end of the second day, New Zealand had clawed their way back through Sinclair's 150, his eighth-wicket stand of 73 with O'Connor, and tight, combative bowling after South Africa's openers had put on 81. The slip catches that Klusener missed when O'Connor was five and Sinclair 121 had taken on an important aspect. Watchful, and patiently waiting to play to his off-side strength, especially off the back foot, Sinclair batted six and a half hours for his second Test century - his first was 214 on debut against West Indies a year earlier - hitting a six and 23 fours in 321 balls. It was the highest for New Zealand against South Africa, beating John Reid's 142 at Johannesburg in 1961-62.
McKenzie's maiden Test hundred, a stylish four-and-a-half-hour 120 graced by 20 fours, regained the initiative for South Africa on the third afternoon. With the new ball claiming Pollock, Boucher and Klusener either side of lunch, leaving South Africa 209 for seven, New Zealand were in a good position to establish a handy lead. Then McKenzie and Boje - something of a scourge with the bat for these tourists - added 136, a South African eighth-wicket record against New Zealand, and at the close South Africa were 63 ahead.
Nor was Boje finished with the New Zealanders. Last out in the third over next morning, he trapped Sinclair lbw almost on the stroke of lunch and had new batsman Fleming caught at slip two overs later. New Zealand had just cleared the arrears. When Pollock removed Richardson and McMillan with successive balls, and Astle was caught behind off Ntini five balls later, South Africa finally gained the upper hand. Only Donald's incapacity with a stomach muscle strain, making him doubtful for the final game, cast a shadow over Pollock's first Test series win as captain.
Man of the Match: N. D. McKenzie.