Outstanding Oram Turns Test

Day two of the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand was action packed, with the kiwis ending the day with the advantage, despite at one stage being 45/5.

The day got underway with Nicky Boje and Dale Steyn looking for quick runs. They swung at just about everything and got the overnight score up to 274 before Boje was out.

Steyn and Ntini then rode their luck; Steyn was dropped by Hamish Marshall and Ntini was fortunate to survive a James Franklin delivery that brushed the off stump on the way through to the keeper.

The pair, however, only managed two runs between them before Steyn was caught at mid-off off Chris Martin. South Africa ended their first innings at 276.

South Africa then came out on fire with the ball. Ntini moved the ball from the start, and the kiwis struggled with the variable bounce in the wicket. Hamish Marshall continued his terrible form with the bat. He was out for six, clean bowled by an in-ducking beauty from Ntini.

Daryll Harper won?t be on Stephen Fleming’s Christmas card list. The Australian umpire gave the New Zealand skipper out caught and bowled off Ntini for a duck when the ball appeared to come straight off his pad. New Zealand 8/2.

The wickets kept tumbling before lunch. Gibbs took a stunning catch at gully to remove Scott Styris for 17. That gave Ntini three wickets and left the black caps at 32/3.

That quickly became 38/4 as Peter Fulton was caught behind in Shaun Pollock?s first over. Mark Boucher took a magnificent one handed catch to leave New Zealand in dire straits. Fulton made only 14, but looked better than the rest of the top order during his stay at the wicket.

Dale Steyn then removed Nathan Astle for four, Boucher taking another catch. Astle was deceived by a full out swinging delivery. He showed no foot movement and only had himself to blame as he walked back towards the pavilion.

With the score now at 45/5 it seemed a possibility that New Zealand would be following on or the South African openers would be padding up over lunch.

Brendon McCullum and Jacob Oram finally fought back for New Zealand though. They took the score through to 74/5 at lunch, and came out after the break with an attacking mindset.

McCullum was particularly punishing of anything wide. He made 31 off 30 balls before he was caught by Boje, fending away at a Jacques Kallis short ball. That wicket left the score at 89/6, and South Africa were looking likely to wrap New Zealand up for under 150.

Vettori and Oram seemed inspired by McCullum’s little cameo however, and they too swung the willow at anything loose dished up to them by the South African seamers. Dale Steyn was especially expensive, going for over six runs an over in the session, although he wasn?t alone in receiving punishment from the batsmen.

113 runs were scored at over four runs an over in the middle session for the fall of only McCullum’s wicket. Oram brought up his half century and Vettori reached 45 when tea was called. New Zealand had progressed along to 187/6 and the lower order had come through for them once again and pulled them out of trouble.

The wicket seemed to flatten out after lunch, and became less responsive as the ball got older. Oram had a life whilst on 33 when he was dropped by Dippenaar at first slip, but other than that it was a near faultless display of batting by the New Zealanders from lunch to tea.

Milestones came thick and fast shortly after tea. First the 100 run partnership for the seventh wicket was reached by the pair, Vettori then registered his half century, then the team score moved past 200 an over later. Vettori also pushed past 2,000 career Test runs, and in doing so became only the third New Zealander to score 2,000 runs and take 200 wickets in Test cricket.

By drinks in the final session the partnership was up to 175 runs. Oram bludgeoned his way past 100, his third in Tests, and Vettori nudged his score up to 81 until Ntini beat him for bounce and he was caught by Prince at point, attempting to pull.

Vettori came to the crease with the score at 89/6. He departed with the score at 272/7. He and Oram put on 183 for the seventh wicket and turned the Test match on its head. It was a truly brilliant effort from the two all-rounders.

James Franklin then came in and played a lovely cover drive to give New Zealand a lead. Ntini then nicked him out for eight, and in doing so captured his fifth wicket of the innings. He was by far the pick of the South African bowlers, always looking threatening.

Oram began to show signs of fatigue when he was joined at the wicket by Kyle Mills, he was developing cramps in his legs and so decided to free his arms and aim up the boundary rope. He and Mills put on 42 before Mills was out hooking off Pollock for 12.

Chris Martin managed to score a run, which is quite rare, but he wasn?t the last man dismissed. Jacob Oram’s career high 133 ended when he looked to hit Steyn out of the park and instead the ball went straight up in the air. Pollock took the catch at mid-on and the New Zealand innings came to a close at 327, a lead of 51.

South Africa only had to face one over to end the day, making it through to four without loss.

South Africa 276
Boeta Dippenaar 52, Graeme Smith 45, Jacques Kallis 38
Kyle Mills 4-43, James Franklin 4-75, Chris Martin 2-66

New Zealand 327
Jacob Oram 133, Daniel Vettori 81, Brendon McCullum 31
Makhaya Ntini 5-94, Shaun Pollock 2-45, Dale Steyn 2-94

South Africa 4-0
Graeme Smith 3*, Herschelle Gibbs 0*

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