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South Africa Almost Home
18 Apr 2006
By: Matt Currie


South Africa have produced a brilliant performance on day four of the first Test from Centurion, to leave New Zealand at 98/7 going into day five, still needing a further 151 runs for victory.

Play started with Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn adding 19 runs to the South African lead, before the carnage started when the pair got the ball in their hands.

New Zealand were set 249 for victory and got off to the worst possible start. Unfortunately for them, Ntini was on fire and he had Peter Fulton and Kyle Mills back in the pavilion by the end of the third over.

Fulton was caught behind second ball for four. Mills was then promoted up the order in an effort by the black caps to limit the damage of the new ball. The move backfired though, and Mills was out second ball for a duck. He went fishing outside off stump and was caught by Dippenaar at first slip.

Things didn't get much better for the kiwis as Steyn nicked out skipper Stephen Fleming for six with the score at 17. Once again the New Zealand top order had failed and it only got worse from here.

Scott Styris came out in the eighth over and was back in the hutch by the tenth. He made two before he played at one he shouldn't have off Steyn and was caught behind.

Ntini then picked up Nathan Astle and Jacob Oram, both for two, and left New Zealand in tatters at 28/6. Astle followed Styris, Mills and Fleming's lead with his approach. He played when he should have left and was caught at third slip. Oram was unlucky though. He was bowled by a ball from Ntini that kept too low for him to have a realistic chance of keeping out.

New Zealand went to lunch at 34/6. They had faced only 15 overs before the interval and had managed to lose a test match in that time. Ntini was superb with the new ball but the top order batting from the black caps once again left a lot to be desired.

Bad light delayed play after lunch and only another 15 overs of play were possible on day four. In this time Brendon McCullum led a fight back for New Zealand. He bashed 33 from 38 until Steyn had him caught at first slip. This was the vital wicket for South Africa as New Zealand would have felt they were still in with a shot of victory while McCullum was still out in the middle.

No more wickets fell in the day. Hamish Marshall ended the shortened days play on 24; Dan Vettori was with him on 18 and New Zealand had progressed through to 98/7 when stumps were called. They will need a minor miracle if they are to pull off a win from here. 151 runs are needed for the kiwis, but only three lower order wickets are needed for South Africa to take a 1-0 series lead.

South Africa 276
Boeta Dippenaar 52, Jacques Kallis 38
Kyle Mills 4-43, James Franklin 4-75

New Zealand 327
Jacob Oram 133, Daniel Vettori 81
Makhaya Ntini 5-94, Shaun Pollock 2-45

South Africa 299
AB de Villiers 97, Jacques Kallis 62
Daniel Vettori 2-42, Jacob Oram 2-44, James Franklin 2-60

New Zealand 98-7
Brendon McCullum 33, Hamish Marshall 24*
Makhaya Ntini 4-41, Dale Steyn 3-35

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