The hosts had Australia at 88-3 in their improbable chase of 612 when bad light brought an early end to Monday’s play. South Africa had earlier declared at 344-6 after batting out two more session on day four.
Here, we look at the key talking points from the fourth day’s play in Johannesburg.
DEAN ELGAR’S VIGIL
Australia must be sick of the sight of Dean Elgar by now. After carrying his bat in the third Test, Elgar showed why he is considered to be one of the toughest batsmen in red-ball cricket.
The South African opener continued from where he left off on Sunday , going into preservation mode as he looked to bock everything. He scored his first run on Monday in the 65th delivery of the day. By the time he brought up his half-century, Elgar had faced 199 deliveries.
He broke the shackles somewhat after reaching fifty but was stopped 19 runs short of another Test ton by Nathan Lyon. Elgar’s 81 runs came off 250 deliveries at a strike-rate of 32.40. By the time he was dismissed, number five batsman Faf du Plessis had arrived to the crease, registered a ton and returned to the pavilion.
Phenomenal stat on Dean Elgar’s half-century: 180 DOT balls in the 199 he faced. 30 overs. One session. 19 scoring shots. #SAvAUS
— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) April 2, 2018
DU PLESSIS ENDS WITH A HIGH AFTER HORRID RUN
It has not been the best of series personally for the South Africa skipper whose highest score in the previous six innings coming into the final Test was just 20 runs.
Du Plessis made sure to end on a high though, albeit when his team was already in a commanding position. After seeing out the last few overs on Sunday evening, the right-hander started fluently on day four. While Elgar continued his ‘blockathon’ at the other end, Du Plessis seized the initiative.
He struck 18 boundaries and two sixes as he brought up his eight Test century. Forming a 170-run stand for the fourth wicket with Elgar, the Proteas skipper eventually departed to a standing ovation for a fine 120 off just 178 deliveries.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) April 2, 2018
INJURY TROUBLES FOR PROTEAS BOWLING UNIT
After Morne Morkel had broken down mid-over on the third day of his final match for South Africa, the hosts were given another scare on Monday morning with injury troubles for both Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander.
Rabada had a reported stiff back while Philander had groin issues which was being managed throughout the Test. Morkel’s injury had probably played a part in Du Plessis not opting to enforce the follow-on on the third day after attaining a 267-run first-innings lead. The fresh injury blows might explain why the hosts batted on Monday despite amassing a gigantic lead.
Luckily for the hosts, the trio was fit enough to bowl when the Australian second-innings began in the final session of the day.
Proteas team update: Rabada is struggling with a stiff lower back, Morkel still with the side strain sustained yesterday, Philander has a strapped groin. All are being managed throughout the match. #SAvAUS #SunfoilTest
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) April 2, 2018
MORKEL DELIGHTS IN FINAL TEST INNINGS
When he broke down with a side-strain on the third day, it looked like the end of Morkel’s international career. The 33-year-old wasn’t going to give up without a fight though. He was seen trying to bowl in the nets on Sunday in a desperate attempt and it seemed to have paid off when he took the field at the start of the final session.
The tall pacer quickly got into the groove upon being given the ball and got South Africa’s first breakthrough by trapping Matt Renshaw plumb in front of the wickets with a sharp in-swinger. He wasn’t just done and repeated the same mode of dismissal to send back the well-set Joe Burns.
The delight on Morkel’s face was clear to see . Come Tuesday, he will still have a big part to play in his final Test innings as he looks to sign off in style.
Haseeb Hameed has revealed he wants to play all forms of cricket in the future.
The 21-year-old batsman, who played three Test matches for England in India in the winter of 2016, has emerged primarily as a first-class player since his Lancashire debut in 2015 – but is open to pursuing limited-overs offerings domestically and, he hopes, internationally in the future too.
Hameed, who has a classical game more suited to the long haul and built on finesse, strokeplay and a strong defence, has turned out in only eight 50-over contests for his county so far, on top of his 42 first-class appearances.
Although four-day competition and a return to Test cricket is ultimately his long-term goal, as he alluded to in a recent interview with Sport360 in Dubai, the Bolton-born star feels it is important to keep moving forward with the pace of the game.
“From a young age, I’ve always wanted to play in all three formats,” Hameed said on the sidelines during the Red Rose’s training stint at the ICC Academy in Dubai.
“I’ve matured as a player in the last 18 to 24 months and that’s what I hope to continue to do and be successful in all three formats. I think the most important thing for me is, I’ve got a game where I feel I don’t have to change too much.”
Talk of a return to the international fold will always be an undercurrent to Hameed’s career until he does eventually play for England again, but for now, he is focused on scoring runs whatever competition he is batting in.
He said: “Of course, there are different skill sets in all formats but the basics are very much the same. For me, it’s about recognising the player who I want to be in all formats and not be someone who I’m not.
“I’m not going to be someone like Chris Gayle or Kieron Pollard who can just whack the ball over the ground but I find different ways of scoring runs. For me, it’s an exciting challenge and I’m taking steps towards that.”
Tom Latham and Jeet Raval edged New Zealand to 42 without loss at the start of a formidable run chase when bad light brought an early end to the penultimate day of the second Test on Monday.
Latham was not out 25 with Raval on 17 and New Zealand requiring a further 340 to reach their 382-run target.
If successful, it would be the seventh-highest winning run chase in Test history.
New Zealand’s highest successful fourth innings is 325 for five to beat Pakistan in Christchurch 24 years ago.
After England declared at 352 for nine, Latham and Raval had some difficult moments in a hostile first-up spell by Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Anderson did everything but claim Latham’s wicket as the New Zealand opener flirted outside the off stump in similar fashion to the way he was removed by Broad in the first innings.
After some near misses, Latham on 23 eventually found an edge but James Vince dropped the chance at third slip.
Broad, meanwhile, consistently beat Raval in his early overs and struck the left-hander with a painful blow in the ribs before he had scored.
Bad light brings an early halt to the day.
A huge day ahead tomorrow as we look to draw the series.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) April 2, 2018
While England’s new ball bowlers were miserly, with Anderson conceding only nine runs from nine overs and Broad going for 16 off eight, the New Zealand pair did find runs easier to get off Mark Wood who went for 13 off two overs.
When the New Zealand innings began with a minimum of 137 overs to reach the target, the required run rate was 2.78 per over. When the light ended play 24 overs early, the run rate was 2.98.
England flourished at the start of the day when they resumed at 202 for three, with Joe Root and Dawid Malan moving the score briskly to 262 before Colin de Grandhomme rallied New Zealand.
He had Malan caught at mid-wicket by Henry Nicholls for 53 to start a tumble that saw six wickets fall for 90 runs before England declared.
Root, having shared in a 97-run stand with Malan, was out three balls later with an edge to wicketkeeper BJ Watling off Neil Wagner.
De Grandhomme, back at the scene of his best career figures – six for 41 on debut against Pakistan two years ago – produced his second best figures of four for 94 as he followed up with the wickets of Ben Stokes (12), Broad (12) and Wood (nine).
Jonny Bairstow, who was given not out on two when he feathered a ball to the wicketkeeper and New Zealand had no reviews left, was eventually out for 36 leaving Jack Leach not out 14 when the declaration came.
If New Zealand draw or win the Test it will see them triumph in a series against England for only the fourth time in 36 attempts.
England need to a victory to snap a 12-match away streak without a win.