By GERALD IMRAY
2013-01-04 12:18 AM
Brendon McCullum and Dean Brownlie made half-centuries and shared a defiant 89-run stand in New Zealand's second innings, but the partnership was broken with McCullum's late exit and the Black Caps finished day two 169-4 and still 133 behind South Africa's first innings of 347-8 declared.
New skipper McCullum's 51 and Brownlie's unbeaten 69 _ after being dropped twice _ did put the top-ranked Proteas on the back foot for the first time in the Cape Town series opener and help take the test to a third day, which hadn't appeared likely after the Kiwis were 0-1 in the first over of their second innings and 29-2.
Robin Peterson made his bowling entrance in the test and ended the McCullum-Brownlie partnership in the late afternoon by removing McCullum lbw, and Jacques Kallis took 2-19 as South Africa had enough in reserve to retain control with a 302-run lead from the first innings.
Brownlie hit 12 fours for his 69 from just 89 balls in a rapid attack rather than the desperate and unsuccessful defense initially employed by New Zealand in its second knock. Despite his brave and flamboyant resistance, though, South Africa was favored to take the last six Kiwi wickets on Friday and wrap up the first test inside three days.
Martin Guptill's departure in the first over to Dale Steyn left New Zealand initially staring down the barrel of another embarrassing batting performance after slumping to a chaotic 45 all out on the first morning.
McCullum and Kane Williamson responded with a grinding partnership of only 29 in nearly 17 overs. Kallis broke that in his second over when Williamson played away from his body to a wide one and lobbed a thick outside edge to Alviro Petersen at second slip.
McCullum's and Brownlie's stand delayed South Africa's march as they raced to their 50 partnership in only 45 balls.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was forced to look beyond his three frontline quick bowlers for the first time in the test and the home team showed it had enough to spare as left-arm spinner Peterson claimed McCullum and Kallis removed Williamson (15) and Daniel Flynn (14) either side of that.
AB de Villiers' 67 for South Africa had earlier pushed them toward a 300-run lead and added to the century by Petersen and half-centuries by Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis. Smith eventually declared soon after lunch after Robin Peterson was bowled for 5 in the fifth over of the afternoon.
The skipper's sudden call gave New Zealand's fragile batting order the best part of two sessions to survive and avoid an innings defeat inside two days in the series opener _ and only Brownlie and McCullum resisted with any success.
Brownlie won't be able to hold back South Africa's rested pacemen alone on Friday morning.
New Zealand's bowlers struck early on day two with a vastly improved effort from the first day.
The Black Caps briefly returned the match to a more normal _ if not yet even _ contest in the first session after South Africa was 252-3 overnight, removing Alviro Petersen for 106 in the day's second over, Faf du Plessis for 15 in the 10th and Dean Elgar (21) just before lunch to slow South Africa's runaway start.
De Villiers' 30th test half-century ensured South Africa built steadily on its one-sided dominance of day one, and an all-around bowling effort put the world's top team in sight of a victory that would aptly reflect its recent rich form and New Zealand's desperate struggles.