At Durban, December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. South Africa won by eight wickets. Toss: New Zealand. Test debuts: J. B. Commins, S. D. Jack.
South Africa squared the series in a low-scoring match through superior application in all departments, while New Zealand's irresponsible batting cost them dear. The first three innings totalled only 603, South Africa securing a priceless first-innings lead of 41, but too many tourists played injudicious shots, with Crowe and Rutherford most culpable.
Fast bowler Steven Jack and Boland captain John Commins supplanted Snell and Eksteen; Morrison, recently flown in, and Pringle replaced De Groen and the injured Nash. Jack made a fine debut, bowling Young for two and catching Fleming at long leg off De Villiers, when he attempted the first ill-advised hook of the game. De Villiers returned the favour when Crowe fell into the leg-side trap, hooking Jack. When Rutherford pulled a short delivery to mid-wicket and Murray was caught behind, New Zealand were 66 for five. Again, Thomson counter-attacked; he punished anything short and his first seven scoring strokes included five fours and a six. But he could not break the pace attack's grip and a burst from McMillan - three wickets in 19 balls - made it 114 for eight. Morrison defended stoutly for 140 minutes and 66 was added before Thomson was brilliantly caught by Kirsten, off another mis-hook, for 82.
The unfortunate Hudson edged to slip but South Africa then batted solidly until Doull had Cullinan lbw and Commins out hooking. This prompted a collapse from 110 for two to 182 for nine. Morrison took three in five overs and worried everyone with his movement off the pitch from an impeccable off-stump line. But Richardson remained unbeaten for two and a half hours and, with de Villers's support in a last-wicket stand of 44, put South Africa in the lead.
New Zealand's second innings started disastrously, with Murray lbw and Rutherford pulling to mid-wicket - just as he had in the first innings. They never recovered, despite an heroic 51 from Young. Crowe became New Zealand's leading Test scorer, passing John Wright's 5,334 when four, but he added only six more. Young's half-century was the third-slowest in Test history at 333 minutes, behind Chris Tavaré's 350 against Pakistan in 1982, and Trevor Bailey's 337 at Brisbane in 1958-59. But once McMillan had him caught at gully and Cronje bowled Thomson with a freak break-back off a crack, the last six went for 48. Parore's run-out was bizarre. After a defensive stroke, he remained a yard out of his crease; Cronje made a token throw at the stumps and television showed that Parore failed to ground his bat in time.
Chasing 152, South Africa shrugged off the loss of Hudson, whose run of 56 in eight Test innings cost him his place, and Kirsten led them to victory with an unbeaten 66. De Villiers was the home team's hero, with match figures of 55.2-17-120-8, but their collective spirit and aggression had been too much for New Zealand, whose decline now looked terminal.
Man of the Match: P. S. De Villiers.
Close of play: First day, New Zealand 130-8 (S. A. Thomson 53*, D. K. Morrison 0*); Second day, South Africa 122-5 (W. J. Cronje 10*, B. M. McMillan 0*); Third day, New Zealand 48-3 (B. A. Young 18*, S. P. Fleming 10*); Fourth day, South Africa 41-1 (G. Kirsten 19*, J. B. Commins 10*).