Hamilton, Mar 16: South Africa took control of a match of batting struggles by sending New Zealand to stumps on Friday at 65-4 in the second innings, trailing by three runs after two days of the second cricket test.
After dismissing New Zealand for 185 in its first innings, claiming its last eight wickets for 52 runs, South Africa slumped to 88-6 in its innings before recovering to reach 253.
New Zealand then stumbled to 7-3 in its second innings before coming back to make 64-3. The squad then lost captain Ross Taylor for 17 just before stumps in what could be a devastating blow to the team's chances of pulling out a victory.
Kane Williamson was 41 not out and Daniel Vettori 0 not out at stumps.
Thirty-two-year-old fast bowler Mark Gillespie took five wickets for 59 in his comeback test to try to keep South Africa from building a commanding first innings lead.
Gillespie also took a five-wicket bag on debut against South Africa in 2007 but played only three tests over the next year before injuries and loss of form cost him his test place.
Playing in his first test in four years, Gillespie ripped through the South African order after it resumed Friday at 27-2. He took the wickets of Alviro Petersen (24), Hashim Amla (16), Jacques Kallis (6), Jacques Rudolph (1) and Mark Boucher (24) to hold the Proteas at 151-7.
A.B. de Villiers rallied South Africa, however, making 83 as the leader of its rearguard. He scored 63 with Boucher, then added 34 with Vernon Philander (14) for the eighth wicket and 34 for the ninth wicket with Morne Morkel before being bowled by Vettori.
Morkel continued the assault on the New Zealand bowlers, hitting five fours and a six in an invaluable 10th-wicket stand with Imran Tahir (16) before South Africa's last man fell to the bowling of part-time spinner Kane Williamson.
De Villiers reached his 28th test half century from 85 balls. He batted for more than three hours, hit 10 boundaries and gave South Africa the upper hand in a low-scoring match.
“We were quite disappointed with the way we batted,” de Villiers said. “Even including myself, there were a lot of soft dismissals and that wasn't on.
“We had the opportunity to take full control of the game and unfortunately we didn't do so. Once again, hats off to our bowlers. They batted well towards the end of our innings and they came out with a lot of energy.”
New Zealand's top order crumpled in the second innings in the face of exacting fast bowling by Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
Philander bowled New Zealand opener Rob Nicol in unusual circumstances. The ball struck Nicol high on the pad, rolled down his leg and dribbled back onto the stumps, just dislodging the bails. He was 1 and New Zealand was 1 for 1.
Philander then trapped Brendon McCullum lbw when he was 5 and New Zealand was only 7. The wicket was Philander's sixth of the match and 11th of the series.
Steyn also bowled with accuracy, claiming the wicket of Martin Guptill (1), who steered a leg-side delivery directly to Amla at mid-wicket.
Taylor and Williamson survived several anxious moments to score 57 for New Zealand's fourth wicket before Steyn struck again, trapping Taylor lbw just before stumps.
New Zealand now faces a difficult first session Saturday as it attempts to avoid further losses and set South Africa a mildly demanding target to take a 1-0 lead in the three-test series. The first test at Dunedin ended in a draw due to heavy rain.
“It was a tough last hour,” New Zealand fast bowler Chris Martin said.
“It's surprising to see how the game's gone on such a placid wicket. I suppose when you look at the attacks on both sides, they're reasonably attacking, they don't give a lot away and have put the batsmen under a lot of pressure over the first two days.”