New Zealand will already have to make the highest successful chase in Christchurch to seal the series
Stumps South Africa 364 (Erwee 108, Wagner 4-102) & 140 for 5 (Verreynne 22*, Mulder 10*) lead New Zealand 294 (de Grandhomme 120*, Rabada 5-60) by 211 runs
Already, New Zealand will have to pull off the highest successful chase at this ground if they are to take the series. And they may fancy themselves to do so, too. For starters, there’s plenty of time left, and though there is something in the surface for both the quicks and Keshav Maharaj, run-scoring is far from impossible.
South Africa were rescued by a half-century stand from Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma after they slumped to 38 for 3 before tea. Then Neil Wagner, as he often does, broke open the door for New Zealand in a terrific spell of short-pitched bowling to dismiss the set batters to bring the hosts back in contention.
South Africa too stuck to a short-ball plan for most of the third day and dismissed New Zealand before the second new ball was due. de Grandhomme picked up where he left off on Saturday, blazing the first delivery to the boundary and continuing to attack his way to a century. Mitchell, who played second fiddle for much of his time on Saturday, also cashed in. He Kagiso Rabada’s third ball over midwicket and top-edged a hook off Jansen to force South Africa to rethink their bang-it-in lengths.
Mitchell brought up his third fifty with a neat clip off his toes and then raised the century stand with a leg-glance to fine leg. At the other end, de Grandhomme greeted Wiaan Muller with back-to-back fours to surge into the 70s. Soon enough, Dean Elgar turned to Maharaj, the match’s only specialist spinner. He didn’t fare better either, being welcomed with a paddle.
Maharaj’s persistence paid when he had Mitchell lbw, ball-tracking showed it would’ve hit the middle of middle stump. He could have had a second but Kyle Jamieson was reprieved at silly point. de Grandhomme soon brought up his century off 138 balls. After taking just 36 deliveries for his first fifty, the allrounder showed a more patient side in getting to his second. He was dropped by Kyle Verreynne six balls later, when he gloved a pull off Jansen.
But Jansen did not have to wait too long to have success as he removed Jamieson off the next ball to open up New Zealand’s lower order with lunch looming. Post the break, they came out looking to attack and managed to pick off some crucial runs. When Wagner upper cut Rabada to deep point, de Grandhomme was left stranded on a career-best 120.
Southee then kept the hosts alive by picking up two quick wickets. He had Sarel Erwee trapped in front with an inswinger that pitched on middle and beat the inside-edge. The opener was given out on-field but reviewed and was confirmed out on umpire’s call.
Then he had Elgar for the second time in the match from around the wicket with a ball that angled in as the left-hander tried to defend. The South African captain got a thick edge and Tom Blundell had to dive across Mitchell at first slip to take the catch.
Markram, who took 25 balls to score his first runs, never quite settled and edged his only boundary between the slips and gully before he was bowled by a pin-point yorker to become Henry’s 50th Test wicket. On a day of short-pitched bowling, this was a welcome surprise. Markram now averages 12.75 in his last 12 Test innings.
New Zealand could have had another before tea when van der Dussen chipped a drive back to Henry on 6. He was also dropped on 30, three overs into Wagner’s wicket-taking spell, when he pulled a delivery to de Grandhomme at square leg; Henry’s was the tougher of the two chances.
By then, van der Dussen had played some shots. He pounced on width from Wagner to slice him through the covers, flaying him over the slips and showing off the pull. He showed a similar intent to de Grandhomme but Wagner stuck to his plan and induced the pull again. This time, Wagner held on to the top-edge himself.
Six overs and 11 runs later, Bavuma drove Wagner away from his body and was caught at cover. Verreynne and Mulder’s 26-run stand in 12 overs took South Africa to the close against a disciplined New Zealand attack.They bowled 12 maiden overs in the 53 South Africa faced on day four; South Africa bowled 13 in New Zealand’s 80.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent