Stumps New Zealand 293 & 94 for 4 (Conway 60*, Blundell 1*) trail South Africa 364 & 354 for 9 decl. (Verreynne 136*, Rabada 47) by 332 runs
South Africa are six wickets away from victory in the second Test, and denying New Zealand the opportunity to get a first Test series win over them. New Zealand may still be eyeing a historic win. They need 332 more runs to pull off the highest successful chase in Test cricket or bat out the final day and draw the second Test. With a minimum of 90 overs left, New Zealand need to score at a rate of and 3.7 and with signs of uneven bounce and turn, that appears unlikely.
Kagiso Rabada headlined the fourth day with a career-best 47 off 34 balls with the bat and then became the first South African bowler to dismiss both openers in both innings in a Test since Morne Morkel in 2010. South Africa would have had thoughts of wrapping up the match early when Rabada had Will Young caught at gully off the third ball and Tom Latham caught at short leg in his second over. Keshav Maharaj bowled Henry Nicholls in the 12th over, but a 56-run fourth-wicket partnership between Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway took the match into the fifth day.
Despite the magnitude of their task, New Zealand may have taken heart from the way South Africa batted on the fourth day. After their run rate hovered under three for most of the match, they scored 214 runs in 47 overs, at a rate of 4.55. Kyle Verreynne, playing in his sixth Test, scored his first century, and first score over 30 in the format. Verreynne's century is the fourth-highest for a South African wicketkeeper in an away Test.
He shared in 78-run sixth and eighth wicket stands with Wiaan Mulder and Rabada respectively and a 32-run last-wicket partnership with Lutho Sipamla to extend South Africa's lead to 425.
Verreynne started the day slowly, scoring two runs off 10 balls in the first seven overs before a neat clip off his pads got him going. He went on to score 24 runs off the next 25 balls he faced, bringing out the pull against Tim Southee and Matt Henry, to get close to a half-century.
That's when he lost Mulder as Kyle Jamieson nicked him off with Tom Blundell taking a one-handed blinder to his right after changing direction at the last second. The catch of the day, though, was still to come.
Two overs before the second new ball was due, Marco Jansen whipped Colin de Grandhomme to deep midwicket. Young ran to his left, reached out an arm and the ball stuck as he rolled over to avoid crashing into the boundary. There was no crowd in that section of the ground but Young saluted a superb catch anyway. Jansen faced 41 deliveries in all.
Rabada joined Verreynne in the afternoon sessions and showed intent early on when he drove Southee through mid-on for four. Then he plundered back-to-back sixes off the same bowler and had a first Test half-century in sight, but did not get hold of a Henry short ball properly and was caught by de Grandhomme at long-on for a 34-ball 47.
Verreynne had been mostly a spectator during this stand, but worked his way into the nineties and brought up his century with a four through fine leg off Henry. South Africa's lead was over 370 at that point and there was some licence to lash out. Verreynne soon took a hat-trick of boundaries off Jamieson, but Maharaj top-edged a pull in the same over. Verreynne ended it with six over deep point.
South Africa's lead got up over 400 and New Zealand's agitation to end the innings grew. They peppered No.11, Sipamla with short balls and Southee struck him on the helmet to hasten Dean Elgar's decision to declare. South Africa closed their innings after 100 overs, leaving themselves four sessions to try and win the game.
That seemed like plenty of time after Rabada's new-ball burst and he could have had a third to his name when Conway pulled a short ball to Sarel Erwee at backward square leg but he could not hold on. Conway, who was on 5 at the time, is unbeaten on 60, so the missed chance proved slightly costly.
South Africa did get a third early wicket but then had to wait until late in the day before they got a fourth. Maharaj bowled Mitchell with a delivery that pitched around off and middle stump, turned away, beat the outside edge and took out off stump. That delivery only confirmed that Maharaj's inclusion, as the only specialist spinner across both XIs, could prove to be as much of a masterstroke as Elgar's decision to bat first, thus leaving New Zealand to bat last.
New Zealand's highest successful chase is 324 for 5 against Pakistan in Christchurch (Jade Stadium), but it came nearly 30 years ago. The biggest total chased down at the Hagley Oval is Australia's 201 for 3.