After the second Test had petered out into a tame draw at Cape Town, Stephen Fleming countered criticism of his decision to bat on into the third day by saying he declared too early. He thought the best chance of winning had been to force South Africa to follow on.
"I needed everything I could get. I probably needed more. The follow-on was our only real chance. We had to bowl South Africa twice. When you commit to that you have to get enough cash in the bank."
He said it might have been better to let James Franklin and Jeetan Patel continue their free-scoring unbeaten ninth-wicket partnership of 58 for another half hour. "It might have been given us more cushion but we thought we had enough overs to bowl them out."
Graeme Smith said he was surprised New Zealand had batted on so long, "especially the way the Test match had gone with light in the evening and dew in the morning. They went past a point of having to make a game of it, they had to try and make us follow on."
South Africa responded by scoring 512, with centuries by Hashim Amla and Ashwell Prince, batting until after lunch on the final day. "We all want results but when you are put in a corner you have to play the situation," said Smith. "We're 1-0 up in the series. We were forced into being defensive and getting through this game and that's what we did."
Smith said South Africa would look to play more aggressively in the final Test starting at the Wanderers on Friday. "We want to play positive cricket, winning cricket. We felt it better to grind their bowlers into the ground with the next Test starting three days later.
"It gave us a great opportunity to go to the Wanderers with a bit of momentum. The batters have got runs under their belt. I'm sure the wicket there will be a little more juicy. It always has a bit more of a result in it than most other wickets."
Fleming said New Zealand were disappointed not to have a chance of winning the series. He said personal satisfaction at his own man-of-the match innings of 262 was tempered by the lack of a win. "It's disappointment because we came here to win a series. We created some opportunities in this Test and couldn't convert."
He added they were determined to try to level the series by winning the final Test. "It should be a result wicket. There's been a lot of inclement weather up there and hopefully we can get on the right side of it."