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Verreynne's unbeaten ton puts South Africa in command vs New Zealand

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Christchurch, Feb 28 (IANS) South Africa’s wicketkeeper-batter Kyle Verreynne lifted his team from a tricky situation to a position of strength with a maiden unbeaten century (136 off 187 balls) as the tourists took control of the second Test, setting New Zealand a mammoth total of 426, on Day 4 at the Hagley Oval on Monday.

At stumps, the Blackcaps had been reduced to 94/4, still 332 runs in arrears, after South Africa declared their innings at 354/9.

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New Zealand had thrashed South Africa by an innings and 276 runs in the opening match of the two-Test series and the tourists would now be fancying their chances of levelling the series on the final day on Tuesday.

South Africa started Day 4 with a lead of 211 runs and they more than doubled that tally in the first two sessions. New Zealand quick Kyle Jamieson broke the overnight partnership thanks to Tom Blundell’s superb reflex catch down to his right, dismissing Wiaan Mulder for 35. Will Young then topped that effort with an amazing catch in the deep to get rid of Marco Jansen (9).

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Just as the home team bowlers thought they were getting some control in the match, Kagiso Rabada launched a vicious counter-attack, striking four sixes and four boundaries in an enthralling innings of 47 (34).

Verreynne continued to keep his score ticking as he brought up his maiden Test half century, while letting Rabada go after the famed New Zealand pace-bowling attack. The South African wicketkeeper did not have a Test fifty to his name before this match but he ensured that he batted through the innings. He brought up his first-ever Test ton, much to the delight of his teammates.

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Chasing a mammoth 426, the hosts got off to the worst possible start, losing both their openers — Tom Latham (1) and Will Young (0) — as Kagiso Rabada picked up the two wickets. Henry Nicholls (7) was the next batsman to be dismissed with Keshav Maharaj picking up his first wicket of the innings. Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell steadied the innings by putting up a healthy partnership of 56, before Maharaj got Mitchell less than half hour before the end of play.

After Mitchell’s (24), Conway brought up his third Test fifty and remained not out on 60 to negotiate the final few overs.

Brief scores: South Africa 364 and 354/9 decl (Rassie van der Dussen 45, Kyle Verreynne 136 not out, Kagiso Rabada 47; Tim Southee 2/90, Matt Henry 2/81, Kyle Jamieson 2/81, Neil Wagner 2/81) vs New Zealand 293 and 94/4 (Devon Conway 60 not out; Kagiso Rabada 2/17, Keshav Maharaj 2/32). New Zealand need 332 runs.

–IANS

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