New Zealand 243-9 (Brendon McCullum 48, Daniel Vettori 46, Philander 4-50) leads South Africa 238 by five runs (Hashim Amla 62, Graeme Smith 53, Chris Martin 4-56).
Vernon Philander struck by grabbing four wickets against New Zealand as South Africa bounced back in the match on the second day of the first Test.
The Proteas were bowled out for 238 runs in their first innings and the Kiwis got a nominal lead of five runs with one wicket in hand at stumps on day two.
The inaugural Test is being played at University Oval, Dunedin, which started on March 7, 2012.
Earlier, the visitors started their innings at 191 runs for the loss of seven wickets, Jacques Rudolph was unbeaten for 46 and Philander was batting at four runs after 59 overs were bowled. They started the day cautiously and Philander opened up in the 64th over while dispatching two boundaries before he was gone on the last ball of the same over for 22.
The eighth wicket was lost at 214 and eight runs later Rudolph was caught at point by Trent Boult off Doug Bracewell for 52. Their innings was folded back for 238 runs in 68.2 overs which looked like a small total.
Martin was the highest wicket taker with four, Bracewell held two as Boult and Vettori shared one wicket each.
The Black Caps initiated their innings badly by losing first wicket on just seven runs when Martin Guptill and McCullum joined together at the crease. They survived the difficult moments when runs were hard to score but kept on creeping and managed 40 runs at lunch interval.
The visitors got an early breakthrough in the first over after lunch when Guptill was clean bowled by Morne Morkal for 16 runs as one run was added in the total. The skipper, Ross Taylor came in next and tried to consolidate the innings with McCullum who was doing well at the other corner.
The run rate was enhanced since they managed a boundary almost in most of the overs and the hundred of the innings was scored in the 37th over. The 39th over witnessed the departure of McCullum for 48 when he top edged the ball as Imran Tahir came running in and caught it on his own bowling.
The third wicket fell at 106 runs and Taylor followed after 10 runs were added in the total for 44. It was left to the middle order to take the team to prosperity when Daniel Vettori and Kruger van Wyk took the responsibility by sharing a dedicated partnership of 53 runs for the sixth wicket.
Vettori was caught and bowled by Jacques Kallis for 46 off 78 balls with 8 fours and Wyk became the next victim at 229 when the batsman has scored 36 runs. The home side managed to surpass the rival’s total by reaching 243 runs in 86 overs with one wicket in hand.
Philander broke the back of the Kiwi batting by grasping four wickets, Morkal got two, Dale Steyn, Imran and Kallis chipped in with one wicket each.
The match was evenly poised at the close of the second day’s play and the third day will be important for both teams which will direct the fate of the match.