NZ fight for lead

Chris Martin’s five-for and gritty batting have put New Zealand in a position where they could well win this Test, after defeat looked more likely at the start of Day 2.

A couple of late wickets yesterday made things easier for them, though South Africa were still 14 runs ahead with six first innings wickets intact. James Franklin made the first inroads of the morning, removing AB De Villiers and Mark Boucher in the same over, the latter to a questionable lbw decision.

Martin soon claimed two wickets for himself, and was aided by another dodgy decision, this time Andrew Hall was the unlucky one, while Ashwell Prince nicked one behind. With wickets tumbling, Shaun Pollock saw the need for quick runs, and he knows how to get them. Franklin found himself dispatched over square leg, as Pollock hammered 32 off 20 balls, which could prove invaluable, given the state of the match.

As Ntini was caught behind off Mills, six wickets had gone down in the morning session. As New Zealand’s innings began, the figure rose to eight, How and Fulton fell cheaply to Steyn and Kallis respectively.

40-2 at the interval, New Zealand were to move themselves on top in the afternoon session, losing just one wicket as they began to build their lead. Fleming who was hit on the hip early on, made 37 before a drive outside off led to his downfall. This gave Jacques Kallis his 200th Test wicket, and he became only the second person after Gary Sobers to achieve the impressive feat of 8000 runs and 200 wickets in Test matches.

Once Fleming had gone, Astle and Styris continued to build positively. They rode their luck, plenty of balls missed the swinging bat, or the despairing reach of the slip cordon, but there were some quality strokes in the mix too. They took New Zealand’s lead close the three figures, but Astle drove at one too many, and found De Villiers at slip.

Steyn soon made another breakthrough, Styris pulled one high in the air, and he held an easy catch off his own bowling. Brendon McCullum soon followed, victim of another poor decision, wrongly given caught behind off Shaun Pollock.

Vettori and Oram hung around for the rest of the day, adding 24 runs in that time. However many runs they and the rest of the tail add in the morning could well prove decisive.

This match is very much in the balance, and it may well be that the misfields, dropped catches and poor umpiring add up to the cost of one team. The first session will be a vital one.

New Zealand 119 all out
Stephen Fleming 46, Nathan Astle 20
Makhaya Ntini 5-35, Dale Steyn 3-43

South Africa 186 all out
Graeme Smith 63, Hashim Amla 56, Shaun Pollock 32*
Chris Martin 5-37, James Franklin 3-87

New Zealand 214-6
Nathan Astle 45, Scott Styris 42, Stephen Fleming 37
Dale Steyn 3-62, Jacques Kallis 2-20

New Zealand lead by 147 runs with 4 wickets remaining

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