Bedingham century and O’Rourke five-for leave contest in the balance

South Africa

Stumps New Zealand 211 and 40 for 1 (Latham 21*, Conway 17, Piedt 1-3) trail South Africa 242 and 235 (Bedingham 110, Petersen 43, O’Rourke 5-34, Philips 2-50) by 227 runs

Will O’Rourke‘s five-wicket haul on Test debut helped New Zealand come roaring back into the contest after David Bedingham‘s classy hundred on day three of the second Test in Hamilton. From 202 for 4, South Africa lost the last six wickets for just 33 runs in the final session to set New Zealand a target of 267.

At stumps, New Zealand were 40 for 1, having lost Devon Conway off what turned out to be the last ball of the day, from Dane Piedt. With New Zealand needing a further 227 runs and South Africa nine wickets to win, the contest is evenly poised heading into day four.

If New Zealand do chase this down, it will become the highest successful chase at Seddon Park, eclipsing the 210-run target mowed down by Australia in 2000.
New Zealand began the day well by striking early, two falling to O’Rourke in his morning spell and one to Rachin Ravindra – Neil Brand hung around for a bit before falling for a 60-ball 34 in South Africa’s 39 for 3 at that point. From there, Bedingham and Zubayr Hamza gave South Africa much-needed momentum. Bedingham, in particular, targeted Ravindra’s poor deliveries as South Africa scored 30 off his three overs before lunch. The two, who started aggressively in the morning, switched gears to play cautiously after lunch when Matt Henry and O’Rourke were making the ball nip around a fair bit.
Surprisingly, Tim Southee took 36 overs to hand the ball to Neil Wagner, who was playing his first Test in almost a year. And Wagner took just five balls to end the 65-run partnership as an impatient Hamza holed out to deep square-leg off a short delivery. However, from that point, again, South Africa were in control, with Bedingham and Keegan Petersen stitching together a healthy partnership.

Though this is only Bedingham’s fourth Test, the clarity in his thinking and approach – perhaps the experience of playing close to 90 first-class matches helped – stood out. He played aggressively when necessary and scored at a good pace. In his 141-ball stay, he hit 12 fours and two sixes, playing almost a faultless innings.

Petersen, at the other end, was good against spin and pace and ticked along nicely in the middle session. They put on 98 runs together for the fifth wicket, putting South Africa in a strong position at tea.

But, just when it looked like South Africa were going to put the game beyond New Zealand, Henry triggered a collapse, Glenn Phillips‘ stunning catch at gully to send back Petersen for 43 starting things off.

Not long after, Phillips, with his offspin, cleaned up Ruan de Swardt when he exposed his stumps attempting a sweep. But it was O’Rourke who delivered the key wicket once again when he dismissed Bedingham for 110, Phillips figuring in the script again. It was a back-of-a-length delivery that Bedingham cut but Phillips was waiting at gully for just that shot.

The extra bounce on offer and O’Rourke’s pace and accuracy meant New Zealand wiped out South Africa one hour into the final session.

By finishing with an overall match haul of 9 for 93, O’Rourke registered the best bowling figures on Test debut for a New Zealand bowler.

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