WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) " Opener Jeet Raval made a valiant half century Saturday as New Zealand battled to save the second cricket test before tea on the third day.
Raval stood firm as New Zealand's top order collapsed to reach his highest test score of 72 not out and guide the home team to 139-5 at tea, a brittle lead of 48. Wicketkeeper B.J. Watling was 14 but New Zealand was still in deep trouble with its tail almost exposed and the intiative in the match resting strongly with South Africa.
The Proteas were given the upper hand by lanky paceman Morne Morkel who first matched his highest test score of 40 as his last-wicket parntership of 57 with Vernon Philander (37 not out) allowed South Africa to reach 359 in reply to New Zealand's 268, a lead of 91.
Morkel then took the first three New Zealand wickets to fall including the vital scalp of captain Kane Williamson and spinner Keshav Maharaj took two wickets in one over to leave the Black Caps 90-5, still a run behind and with their top order ruined.
Raval led the resistance and by tea had batted more than three and a half hours during which he received fleeting support from Neil Broom (20), Henry Nicholls (12) and Watling.
Raval's previous highest test score was 56 and after Saturday's innings he has gone past 50 three times without advancing to a major score. His consistency is evident in his test average of 36.
He faced a torrid examination Saturday from Kagiso Rabada, who peppered him with short-pitched deliveries in a truly fast spell of downwind bowling, striking him repeatedly on the fingers.
Raval was able to survive that test by limiting his strokeplay, avoiding the tendency to play wide of his off stump which accounted for several of the other New Zealand batsman.
Tom Latham (6) was out in that manner, caught at third slip by J.P. Duminy off Morkel and Williamson feathered a catch to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock from Morkel's bowling when he couldn't resist chasing a ball on a fifth-stump line.
Neil Broom, who waited 136 first class matches to make his test debut at 33 and made a first ball duck in the first innings, was more resilient Saturday, batting 76 minutes for 20. But he was also eventually drawn by Morkel into a dab outside off stump and gave de Kock his second catch.
Maharaj then turned the match substantially in South Africa's favor when he dismissed first innings century maker Nicholls and James Neesham (4) in the same over.
Nicholls, whose 118 in the first innings was his maiden test century, tried to sweep and deflected the ball onto his stumps from an inside edge while Neesham attempted an injudicious drive and sliced the ball to Faf du Plessis at mid-wicket.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings