At Centurion, April 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 2006. South Africa won by 128 runs. Toss: South Africa.
Makhaya Ntini celebrated his second consecutive ten-wicket haul and the fourth of his Test career, both national records, as he bowled South Africa to a convincing victory six overs into the fifth day. Ntini's superb performance will shine brightest in the memory of most who saw this match. Some will also remember the triumphant crunch of his spikes on Centurion's polished corridors as he strode to the press conference afterwards, and the torrent of Xhosa he unleashed in reply to that rare thing: a question put to him in his first language.
The New Zealanders could only wonder at what might have been had Bond been fit to exploit the variable bounce and movement offered by the pitch, particularly in the mornings. Without him to beat Ntini for pace and match him for aggression, the match was a contest only fleetingly. Mills, Bond's replacement as spearhead, claimed career-best figures and shared eight wickets with Franklin as South Africa dawdled to 276. The most memorable moment came when the left-armer Franklin bowled Kallis with a slow, swinging yorker that left one of the game's least flappable figures blinking at the sightscreen. But then, presented with the opportunity to drive home the advantage their bowlers had won, New Zealand crashed to 45 for five, then 89 for six, on the second day.
They were steered away from ignominy by Oram, back in the Test team after struggling with injuries for 18 months. He survived a difficult chance to Dippenaar at first slip off Steyn at 33, and labelled his century as both his best and his worst, explaining: "You know you're not looking as good as you would like, and your feet aren't moving as well as you would like, and you're not hitting the ball where you would like. But 133 is damn satisfying." He put on 183 for the seventh wicket with Vettori, which had much to do with New Zealand earning a lead of 51, while Ntini claimed five for 94.
South Africa lost three wickets before the deficit was cleared, but then forged ahead, led by controlled aggression from de Villiers, who was out for 97 three overs before the third-day close. Perhaps his focus was fractured by thoughts of the Robbie Williams concert he was going to attend that evening, a delight the more strait-laced Kallis refused to entertain: "I can't have hordes of people screaming in my ear the whole night, not during a Test match."
Bad light and rain ended play nine balls after tea on the fourth day, restricted to just 37.1 overs. But in that time New Zealand, chasing 249, collapsed once more - they were 28 for six, and limped to 98 for seven by the close. Again the tireless, accurate Ntini was the sharpest thorn in their side. Fleming tried to shield his batsmen by sending in Mills at No. 3, as what Steyn termed "a new-ball watchman, or something like that". Mills haughtily let the first one go, then edged his second ball into the slips. Marshall stood firm for 165 minutes for 25, while McCullum and Vettori offered some late-order sparkle. But Ntini and the bristling Steyn settled on an orthodox line and length, and let what had become a chronically inconsistent pitch do the rest: they finished with five wickets apiece.
For the first time, three players reached a century of Test caps in the same match, appropriately enough at Centurion Park. At the end Kallis (whose total includes his appearance for the World XI in the Super Series) and Pollock were happier than Fleming, the first New Zealander to reach 100 (76 as captain).
Man of the Match: M. Ntini.