Captain Kane Williamson made his 16th Test century as New Zealand secured a 33-run first innings lead on day three of the first Test against South Africa in Dunedin.
However, the tourists then reached 38-1 in their second innings to lead by five runs at stumps and leave the match finely poised. The South Africa innings was disrupted when a fire alarm in University Oval’s main grandstand forced the ground’s evacuation and led to a 20-minute delay.
Firemen who searched the area blamed steam for setting off the alarm and, when play resumed in gathering gloom, Hashim Amla (23 not out) and Dean Elgar (12 not out) survived until bad light brought the action to a close.
Replying to 308, New Zealand began the day on 177-3 and they went on to reach 341 and secure a first innings lead over South Africa for the first time in seven Tests.Williamson resumed on 78 not out and went on to make 130, putting him just one hundred behind the New Zealand Test record of 17 held by the late Martin Crowe.
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling (50) helped Williamson to add 84 for the sixth wicket, after Jeetan Patel (16) and James Neesham (seven) had departed.
The sixth-wicket pair took the score to 277-5 before the skipper departed after a patient 380 minutes in the middle – in which he faced 241 deliveries – undone by Kagiso Rabada, who used the extra bounce and movement of the new ball to get an edge which was held by keeper Quinton de Kock.
That triggered the fall of three wickets for 27 runs but Neil Wagner hit two sixes in his run-a-ball 32 to take New Zealand into a handy lead. He was aided by the injured Ross Taylor (15 not out), who was forced from the field by a calf tear earlier in the innings but returned to join Wagner and smashed a six as he helped add 17 for the last wicket, despite being barely able to run.
The 27-year-old spinner Keshav Maharaj ended the innings when he had Wagner caught by JP Duminy to finish with 5-94, his first five-wicket Test haul.
When they batted again, South Africa lost opener Stephen Cook for a duck to the fourth ball of the innings, caught behind off Trent Boult.
Cook walked rather than seek a review but replays were unable to detect the ball hitting the bat, suggesting he might have survived if he had tried to overturn the decision.
Although the wicket is showing signs of taking turn, the chances of a result in the Test may be slim, with rain forecast over the next two days, particularly Sunday.