Oram takes centre stage

Jacob Oram made a Test best 133 to lead a dramatic fight back by the BLACKCAPS on the second day of the first Test against South Africa at Centurion.

Oram and Daniel Vettori led the resistance as the BLACKCAPS recovered heroically from an early setback to earn 327 and a lead of 51 having overcome intense pressure.

Having removed South Africa for 276 in the morning session of the second day of the first Test, the BLACKCAPS fell to 45 for five before lunch.

But Brendon McCullum produced a typically bullish 31 before Oram and Vettori as part of a ground-record seventh-wicket stand of 183.

The BLACKCAPS earned the right to bat after taking the last two South African wickets for just 10 runs. They added only six to their overnight total of 266 for eight when Nicky Boje (23) was caught lbw by James Franklin, for the left-armer’s fourth wicket of the innings.

Dale Steyn (13) attempted to launch a Chris Martin delivery but Kyle Mills took an easy catch at mid off. Makhaya Ntini was unbeaten on one at the close of the innings, but soon thrived at his specialty.

Ntini then took three top-order wickets as the BLACKCAPS were left reeling at 45 for five. Hamish Marshall (six) was bowled to a ball that failed to rise on its way through.

Captain Stephen Fleming, playing in his 100th Test was given out for a duck rather unfortunately to a ball from Ntini. Fleming tried to brush the ball to the leg side, but the ball hit his pads and looped back to the bowler to be given out. Television replays later showed there was no contact with the bat by the ball.

Peter Fulton (14) and Scott Styris (17) could not convert on starts. Styris, having made scored a run a ball, saw a top edge off Ntini caught well by Herschelle Gibbs at gully.

Shaun Pollock then forced Fulton into an outside edge taken well by a diving Mark Boucher, and Dale Steyn added his name to the wicket takers list when he removed Nathan Astle for just four.

At lunch Ntini went into the break with figures of 3/22, ending the innings with five for 94.

But after he was taken out of the attack, the tourists thrived. McCullum made headway before he was removed by a Boje catch off Kallis with the score on 89, which brought Vettori to the crease.

Oram and Vettori continued the transformation brought about by McCullum’s aggression and added 98 more in the afternoon session.

They extended their fine form into the final session, as an emotional Oram completed his third Test century.

Vettori fell short of three figures, but did make 81 before falling to Ntini, caught by Ashwell Prince at point - a knock which helped him pass the 2000 run/200 wicket mark in Tests.

Franklin supplied eight before becoming Ntini’s fifth wicket, caught behind by Boucher, while Mills made 12 before falling to Pollock, caught by a diving Boje at deep mid-wicket.

Oram eventually yielded, caught by Pollock off Steyn, having faced 169 deliveries and hit 18 fours and a six as he gave the Blackcaps an advantage they could not have envisaged earlier in the day.

The hosts faced a single Franklin over before stumps as they began their second innings. They ended on four without loss, Gibbs on three and Graeme Smith yet to score.

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