DUNEDIN: New Zealand battled to 137 for two at the close of play on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa after being set an imposing 401-run target to win.
The home side lost both openers cheaply before Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor came together and reduced the required total to 264 with eight wickets in hand by stumps.
When bad light stopped play four overs early, McCullum was not out 58 with Taylor unbeaten on 48.
The Black Caps’ current record fourth-innings winning total is 324 for five against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1994.
Earlier, South Africa declared their second-innings at 435 for five midway through the fourth day with Jacques Rudolph unbeaten on 105 — the third centurion of the innings after Graeme Smith (115) and Jacques Kallis (113).
They then dismissed the New Zealand openers on either side of the tea break with Martin Guptill the first to fall for six, edging Vernon Philander to AB de Villiers in the slips. Rob Nicol was dismissed for 19.
At 55 for two, Taylor joined McCullum in the middle and the pair set about rebuilding the innings, putting on an unbeaten stand of 82.
Until New Zealand’s most experienced Test batsmen came together the day had belonged to South Africa, who resumed their second innings at 268 for three and added a further 167 for the loss of two more wickets before Smith declared.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2012.