Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor shared an unbroken 82-run partnership to give New Zealand hope of reaching their 401 target for victory in the first Test against South Africa in Dunedin.
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The Black Caps were 137 for two when bad light ended play on day four at University Oval, the hosts chasing what would be the highest successful fourth-innings total in the country's history.
McCullum had moved to 58 not out by the close with captain Taylor unbeaten on 48 to give their side a fighting chance with 264 more runs needed.
The Black Caps' pursuit got off to a rocky start when Martin Guptill departed for six, the opener's shaky defensive technique again exposed by a Vernon Philander delivery that nipped away and was edged to AB de Villiers at third slip.
Fellow opener Rob Nicol battled away for 71 balls for his 19. He was struck on the gloves and played and missed numerous times before meekly chipping out to Graeme Smith at mid-on off the bowling of leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
That brought the hosts' two most talented batsmen together at the crease on 55 for two, and the pair took up the challenge with relish. They hardly gifted a chance, other than a McCullum inside edge that nipped bat pad's fingertips and a wild Taylor slash that mirrored his first-innings dismissal - apart from the result.
McCullum completed his 21st Test half-century off 65 balls. He scored at a good pace, but through calculated and well-executed options rather than flashy strokeplay.
Taylor was similarly responsible, stroking eight boundaries and rotating the strike well with boundary riders posted on each side to rein the attack-minded pair in.
After the shine had gone off the ball and the threat of Philander in particular was negated, the Proteas found little joy.
There was not a lot to trouble the batsmen in the first half of the day, either, when New Zealand's imposing target was set up by a trio of South Africa centurions in a total of 435 for five declared.
They were captain Smith with 115 the previous day, Jacques Kallis - who was dismissed early on Saturday for 113 - and Jacques Rudolph, the now owner of six Test hundreds thanks to his classy 105 not out.
New Zealand picked up two wickets during the morning but could not contain the runs flowing from Rudolph's bat in particular.
From an overnight score of 268 for three, the tourists advanced their score by 168 in a session and a half and lost the wickets of Kallis and De Villiers (29).
Kallis added only six to his overnight score of 107 and his 42nd Test century was cut off when he chipped Trent Boult into Nicol's safe hands in front of square leg.
It was a tame end to another Kallis masterclass, made off 263 balls through 380 minutes of dedication.
De Villiers and Rudolph put on 70 for the fifth wicket before the former holed out slog-sweeping Kane Williamson's part-time off-spin.
Rudolph and Mark Boucher (34 not out) added an unbroken 82 until the left-handed number six completed his century and Smith called the duo in.