Shane Warne brought a "rock and roll" spirit to cricket and his death is a "terrible" blow, commentary colleague Mark Nicholas said on Friday.

The sport has been jolted by the loss of Warne at the age of 52, who remained a major figure even though his playing days were long over.

Warne was a leg-spin maverick who had an exuberant character that helped to make him a natural broadcaster.

He thrived in his role as an expert analyst and was a popular presence in the role, bringing to bear the experience of his 145 Test matches and 194 ODIs.

Nicholas, a Hampshire mainstay for many years before turning to broadcasting, has become one of the best-known anchor presenters, and often worked in tandem with Warne.

Remembering Warne's influence, Nicholas told talkSPORT: "He turned a whole generation around to a new rock and roll type of cricket, he played to a level never been seen before.

"He always was an entertainer, he was never compromised by his art, and what he really valued was loving that so many people loved watching him play. He was an amazing guy with extraordinary energy.

"The only consolation I can give is he gave this life a good crack. I would say I would have trusted him with my life and would rate him as one of the great enthusiasts… of anything. He was up for anything."

Warne also played for Hampshire, some years after Nicholas retired, and captained the county side.

But it was as a spin pioneer with Australia that Warne shone brightest, his flair and cunning undoing the world's finest batsmen. He was repeatedly the scourge of English batsmen, helping Australia to seven Ashes series wins.

He retired from international cricket in 2007 after a 15-year career, seeing out his final years as a player in T20 competitions.

"This is a desperate blow," Nicholas said. "He was one of the most amazing people I've ever met and it's just terrible."

To watch the great Shane Warne bowl his mesmerizing leg-spin was pure theatre.

It was poetry in motion to witness the Australia legend come in off his short run before bamboozling batsmen all over the world time and again.

The cricket world is in mourning after Warne died in Thailand at the age of 52.

Not only was he one of the best cricketers of all time, Warne established himself as a sporting icon due to his wizardry with the ball and his infectious personality.

He made a huge impact with his incredible skill, passion for the sport and drive to reach new heights.

There was a swagger about the Victorian, who looked more like a surfer from Bondi Beach than a Test bowler when he emerged on the international stage with bleach-blonde hair and zinc sunscreen smeared on his face.

Warne certainly made waves in a magnificent playing career, with Muttiah Muralitharan the only bowler to have claimed more than his 708 Test scalps from 145 matches.

There were so many highs for the maverick tweaker, a standout being the 'Ball of the Century' to bowl Mike Gatting with a delivery that ripped up from outside leg to strike the off stump in the 1993 Ashes series.

He also claimed an Ashes hat-trick on his home Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1994 and was man of the match when Australia won the 1999 World Cup final against Pakistan after taking 4-33 at Lord's.

Warne loved being on the big stage and he thrived on the pressure, delivering multiple match-winning performances over the years.

There was an aura about him. He was a vibrant personality, a great sport, who knew how to enjoy himself, and far more than just a cricketer.

Off the field, he lived a colourful life and was described as a "rock and roll" cricketer by his commentary colleague Mark Nicholas on Friday.

Warne was stripped of the Australia vice-captaincy in 2000 after a phone-sex scandal involving a British nurse, at a time when he was married.

He was linked with many women, notably coupling up with British actress Liz Hurley to whom he became engaged, although they later split.

Famously, Warne was banned for a year after testing positive for a banned diuretic in February 2003, just prior to Australia beginning their campaign at the Cricket World Cup. He said the pill had been given to him by his mother, flatly denied any intentional wrongdoing, and was soon back to his best once that ban expired.

Warne continued to pass on his wisdom to both young and established players after calling time on his playing career, leaving spinners in particularly transfixed by both his actions and words.

He remained in the game as a coach, mentor and an excellent commentator, bringing an unrivalled energy to his work and play.

It was not only batsmen who had difficulty reading him, as he also experienced success on the poker table.

There was an air of expectation when Warne walked onto the field, entered a room, started a commentary stint or a coaching session.

The many tributes from far and wide for a sporting icon showed the measure of the man who has gone far too soon.

Warne was a superstar, a genius who lived life to the full and is a huge loss.

Australia Test captain Pat Cummins said cricket "will never be the same" after the death of leg-spin great Shane Warne.

Warne has died at the age of 52, having been found unresponsive in his villa in Thailand on Friday.

The flamboyant bowler registered 708 wickets across a remarkable 15-year Test career, bettered only by fellow spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, before retiring from international cricket in 2007 and pursuing careers in commentary and coaching.

He was a victor in seven Ashes series, in which he picked up 195 dismissals in outings against England, as he inspired the next generation of Australian cricketers.

Cummins expressed shock at the news of Warne's death when he spoke after stumps on day one of Australia's first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi. He also paid tribute to another Australia Test mainstay in Rod Marsh, who died aged 74 on Thursday.

"On behalf of the entire playing group and support staff here in Pakistan, I want to express our shock and sadness over Shane's sudden passing," Cummins said, quoted by Cricket Australia. "We are all numbed by the news.

"Shane was a once-in-a-century cricketer and his achievements will stand for all time, but apart from the wickets he took and the games he helped Australia win, what he did was draw so many people to the sport.

"So many of us in the playing group grew up idolising him and fell in love with this great sport as a result, while many of our support staff either played with him or against him.

"It has been a terrible couple of days for Australian cricket with the passing of Rod Marsh and now Shane.

"Our thoughts are with both families and, in Shane's case, particularly with his parents Keith and Bridgette, his brother Jason and his children Jackson, Summer and Brooke.

"The game of cricket was never the same after Shane emerged, and it will never be the same now he has gone. Rest in peace King."

Rishabh Pant fell agonisingly short of a century and Virat Kohli missed out on a hundred on day one of his 100th Test, but India are on top against Sri Lanka in Mohali.

Kohli looked in good touch in his landmark match – and the first since Rohit Sharma replaced him as Test captain – before he was bowled by Lasith Embuldeniya for 45.

Hanuma Vihari made a composed 58 after being selected to come in at number three, but it was Pant who took centre stage following Kohli's departure with a typically explosive innings.

The wicketkeeper-batsman smashed 96 off 97 balls, but failed to reach three figures as he was bowled by Suranga Lakmal late in an opening day of the series that ended with India on 357-6.

Rohit started his reign by winning the toss and put on 52 in an opening stand with Mayank Agarwal before the new skipper fell to Lahiru Kumara for 29.

Agarwal (33) was also sent on his way before lunch, trapped leg before by Embuldeniya (2-107), and Kohli struck five boundaries before losing his off stump to the spinner to end a stand of 90 with Vihari.

With Cheteshwar Pujara dropped along with Ajinkya Rahane, the elegant Vihari set about trying to establish himself in the side with a half-century before playing on to a delivery from Fernando.

Pant produced the fireworks in a swashbuckling knock to raise the run-rate, putting on 104 for the sixth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (45 not out) on a tough day for Sri Lanka.

The tourists were lifted late on, though, when was cleaned up through the gate by Lakmal and kicked the ground as he trudged off in fury.

 

Pant pummels Sri Lanka

A fifth Test century was there for the taking for Pant after Pant dispatched the Sri Lanka attack to all parts.

The destructive left-hander shifted through the gears after bringing up his half-century, launching Embuldeniya for back-to-back sixes as he took 22 off an over from the spinner.

Pant had cleared the rope four times and hit another nine boundaries until he fell so close to three figures.

 

Kohli joins 8,000 club but hundred remains elusive

Former captain Kohli strode to the crease with an air expectation on such a big occasion for him.

That was building as he ticked along nicely, scoring the 38 runs he needed to reach the 8,000-mark in the longest format.

There was to be no first Test century since November 2019, though, as Embuldeniya failed to read the script.

Australia mourned the loss of a cricket legend before they endured a frustrating time in the field against Pakistan on the opening day of the first Test.

Rod Marsh, a great of the Australian game, passed away at the age of 74 on Friday. The former wicketkeeper played 96 Tests for his country and famously teamed up for 95 dismissals with paceman Dennis Lillee.

Both teams observed a minute's silence in tribute to Marsh before the start of play in Rawalpindi, but Pakistan went on to impress in their first home Test against Australia in 24 years, with Imam-ul-Haq's unbeaten 132 from 271 balls leading the way.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam promised the tourists – who top the ICC Test Championship rankings after their Ashes thrashing of England – a stern challenge and so it turned out, with the hosts, who won the toss and elected to bat, reaching 245-1 at stumps. 

Openers Abdullah Shafique (44) and Imam put on a 100 partnership in the first session, though Australia got a timely wicket when the former clipped to visiting skipper Pat Cummins off Nathan Lyon's bowling just before lunch.

Yet any Australian confidence was chipped away as the day wore on and Imam's maiden Test century arrived when the 26-year-old sent a Mitchell Starc delivery through the covers for four, with Azhar (64) moving to a 35th half-century in the longest format soon after.

Australia took the new ball with Pakistan on 235-1 from 82 overs, yet there was no late slip-up from the batsmen.

Imam marks his comeback in style

Imam had not featured in a Test for Pakistan since doing so against Australia in December 2019, when he scored two and then got out for a duck in a heavy defeat in Adelaide.

Yet the opener was sensational this time out, with his tally including 15 fours and two sixes, and he will go into day two looking to build on a fantastic first Test ton.

To make matters worse for Australia, Pakistan have Babar to come in next. He has scored two centuries and a half-century in his four Tests at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, where he averages 110 in the longest format. 

Reliance on Lyon backfires

The onus was on Lyon to make the difference for Australia, given he was the sole full-time spinner selected for this Test, and that decision might prove a costly one.

Lyon was hit for 87 for his one wicket, and though Marnus Labuschagne (17-0), Steve Smith (5-0) and even Travis Head (13-0) were given a go, none could make the desired impact.

Virat Kohli says it feels "surreal" that he will play his 100th Test for India when they face Sri Lanka at the start of a new era on Friday.

Kohli will become the 12th man to make a century of appearances for India in the longest format when he features at the PCA Stadium in Mohali.

The 33-year-old's landmark Test will be his first since he stepped down as captain and was replaced by Rohit Sharma.

Kohli brought his long reign to an end following a 2-1 series defeat in South Africa, where he was unable to end a wait for a Test century that stretches back to November 2019.

It would be fitting if the former skipper reaches three figures in his 100th Test, an achievement he did not believe would be possible.

Kohli said in an interview with BCCI.tv: "It feels surreal. I never imagined I would play 100 Tests for India. There was a time where I remember I had told myself I will do anything possible to play for India.

"Nothing could demotivate or distract me anymore. I was completely focused on getting to the top and playing for a long period. Things unfolded in a way that the journey kept on going.

"Life is unpredictable in many beautiful ways and I don't think we should put any restrictions on life in terms of how many amazing moments you can witness in the future.

"You have no idea what the future holds. It is best not to panic or get de-motivated by what might not happen because my career, my life, is an example of what is possible."

Kohli added: "I hear that crowds have been allowed as well. It's going to be a special, special morning. There will be some butterflies, I won't lie.

"There have to be butterflies till the last game you play for India."

India are unbeaten in eight Tests against Sri Lanka, a run stretching back to August 2015.

Strong favourites India have only lost one of their past 20 home Tests, that coming against England in February last year.

Dropped Pujara and Rahane leave 'big shoes to fill'

There was no place for batting stalwarts Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the India squad.

Yet new skipper Rohit says we have not seen the last of the experienced duo on the international stage, and it is down to the players who are given the nod to replace them to grasp their chance.

Rohit said: "Those are big shoes to fill. Never easy for the guys who come in. Even I don't know who is going to come in. You have to wait until tomorrow morning. But yeah, what Pujara and Rahane have done for this team, you can't put it in words.

"All these years of hard work, playing 80-90-odd Test matches, all those overseas Test victories, India getting to number one in the Test format, these guys helped us throughout and played a big part in that. There is no way they are not being looked at in the future. They will definitely be part of our plans in the future. Like the selectors also said, it is just for now that we didn't consider them. There is no guarantee, nothing written about them that they will not be considered for future series."

 

Karunaratne relishing the challenge

Sri Lanka are sitting pretty at the top of the World Test Championship table with two wins out of two.

They whitewashed West Indies 2-0 after beating Bangladesh 1-0, and although it would be a big upset if the tourists come out on top in India, Dimuth Karunaratne is relishing the challenge.

He said: "Our plans, those are secrets. We are not supposed to tell that to the press. But we do have some plans.

"We do know some youngsters are playing like [Shreyas] Iyer, Shubman Gill, those are the guys who are supposed to fill the places of Rahane and Pujara. So, we have some plans and will try to execute in the Test match as well."

Babar Azam says Pakistan are ready to give Australia a "tough time" when a historic three-match series gets under way at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Australia will be playing their first Test in Pakistan for 24 years and the two nations will be competing for the honour of lifting the Benaud-Qadir Trophy for the first time.

Pakistan whitewashed Bangladesh 2-0 in their last Test series, but they will have to do without the injured Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf along with Haris Rauf – who tested positive for coronavirus.

Australia are top of the rankings after thrashing England 4-0 to retain the Ashes, but Babar says Pakistan can bring them back down to earth.

The Pakistan captain said: "It did disturb our combination, especially injuries to Faheem and Hasan. Faheem contributes both with ball and bat, and Hasan is one of the top bowlers, a proven match-winner.

"Still, we have Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, who both are bowling well, and Fawad Alam and [Mohammad] Rizwan in good batting form. Australia is one of the best sides, we can't take it easy against them.

"We did well against Bangladesh. In this series, too, we will do well and give them a tough time. Fans can expect quality cricket from us."

Andrew McDonald has been installed as Australia's interim head coach after Justin Langer's departure.

Both Babar and Australia skipper Pat Cummins revealed they will wait until the coin toss to name their sides after they were unable to take a look at the pitch due to rain on Thursday.

Cummins said: "We're pretty sure [what the team will be] but we just want to have another look at the wicket, and we probably won't get the chance today, so we'll have a think late this arvo [afternoon] to work out the XI, or tomorrow morning,

"We've got a fair idea what we want to do, but don't want to make the call too early without fully knowing what the wicket is."

Australia were 1-0 winners in their last Test series in Pakistan back in 1998.

Babar to rack up the runs in Rawalpindi again?

Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for run machine Babar.

The prolific skipper has scored two centuries and a half-century in his four Tests at the venue, where he averages 110 in the longest format.

Babar's last reached three figures in a Test in Rawalpindi just over two years ago, making 143 versus Bangladesh.

 

Warner a thorn in Pakistan's side

David Warner has a staggering average of 108.4 against Pakistan in the longest format – the best of any player in any history to have been at the crease at least six times against them.

That average soared after the Australia opener made a magnificent 335 not out when the Pakistan attack toiled in the second Test at Adelaide Oval in 2019. Warner also scored a hundred in the first match of that series, which Australia won 2-0.

Warner will be eager to put the misery of bagging a pair in his last Test, against England in Hobart, behind him when he bats in Pakistan for the first time in a Test.

Virat Kohli deserves the "big achievement" of reaching 100 Test caps having "dominated all over the world", according to former Delhi Daredevils team-mate Punit Bisht.

Kohli is set to become just the 12th Indian to bring up 100 Test appearances for his country when Sri Lanka visit Mohali on Friday.

The 33-year-old could also become just the sixth Indian, and 32nd player overall, to achieve 8,000 runs in the longest format, as he sits just 38 away from the landmark heading into a two-Test series against Dimuth Karunaratne's tourists.

Kohli, who stepped down as India's red-ball captain in January before Rohit Sharma was appointed to lead in all three formats in February, has also averaged 50.4 across his first 99 outings.

Former Delhi batter Bisht, who played with Virat Kohli in the Ranji Trophy back in 2006, believes the feeling for Kohli on his 100th appearance will be unmatched.

"I think it's the greatest feeling for any Test cricketer," Bisht told Stats Perform ahead of Kohli's milestone. "You play 100 Tests for your country and for almost half of the test matches, you're captaining your country.

"So that's a very big achievement and to dominate the 100 Tests - it's not like he just played [well] domestically, he dominates all over the world. It's like anywhere, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa."

Indeed, Kohli has headed the Indian batting ranks for most of the recent past, having made his Test debut against the West Indies in June 2011.

Since then, he has been the highest scorer in 16 of the 99 red-ball internationals he has played, a record only bettered by Joe Root (21), who has profited from playing more matches in that period.

However, Kohli has endured a lean spell of scoring form over the last two years, failing to record a century since November 2019, his 27th international ton against Bangladesh.

But Bisht expressed his confidence that his former batting partner will soon return to making runs.

"I mean it's only just the matter of [getting] another 100," he responded when asked about Kohli's limited returns. "But he keeps coming, if you see the stats from in the last year, he's scoring runs in white-ball cricket. 

"I mean I can't say he's out of form you see his last 10 or 12 one-day innings, almost five or six 50s there. 

"So, I don't think so there is an issue. It's just a matter of one good 100, I'm sure."

Kohli also sits sixth in the list of India's all-time Test run-scorers, with Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar ahead of him.

But Bisht refused to be drawn on comparisons between the current Indian star and greats of previous eras.

When asked where Kohli ranks, Bisht added: "It’s a very debatable thing and all the eras are different. You can't compare the other greats with Virat Kohli. 

"They all have different responsibilities in terms of team-wise and in terms of player-wise. So, it's tough to say who's best."

Kohli will be under the stewardship of Sharma against Sri Lanka, and Bisht wants to wait and see whether the captaincy decision proves to be the right one.

"Let's see, I don't know right now. Who would have thought [that Kohli would step down]?" he continued. 

"Has anyone told him to step down or is that 100 per cent his decision? But as long as he's playing cricket and keeps enjoying his game, the main thing you want is Virat Kohli in the middle.

"That's the most important thing and if he plays with the same passion and the same intensity I don't think anyone in India has any issues."

South Africa secured a drawn series with New Zealand as they clinched a 198-run win on the final day of the second Test in Christchurch.

New Zealand began day five on 94-4 but their hopes of holding on to seal a series win were dashed by the Proteas' attack.

Devon Conway was the man holding the New Zealand second innings together, resuming unbeaten on 60.

But he fell eight runs shy of a century and his exit opened the floodgates as the emerging Marco Jansen excelled with the ball and Keshav Maharaj claimed the final wicket to ensure the spoils were shared.

Lutho Sipamla removed Conway when he trapped him lbw with a full delivery and the Black Caps' resistance was never the same thereafter.

Tom Blundell (44) missed out on a half-century and, more importantly, removed himself as a set batsman when his half-hearted pull shot off Jansen only went as far as Temba Bavuma at midwicket.

Left-armer Jansen then removed Colin de Grandhomme, scorer of an unbeaten century in the first innings, with a short ball, leaving the tail to try to prolong the inevitable.

Kagiso Rabada ran to deep leg side to help Jansen secure his third by dismissing Kyle Jamieson before Rabada got in the act himself, drawing an edge to midwicket from Tim Southee.

Rain arrived to frustrate South Africa and force umpires to call an early tea, but the Proteas' wait for the decisive wicket was ended when Maharaj trapped Matt Henry in front for a duck.

More Marco magic

After being limited to two wickets in the first Test, Jansen was back to more prolific form here, following up 4-98 in the first innings with 3-63 in the second. He has taken at least five wickets in all but one of his five Test matches and claimed seven in three of his last four.

Rabada (3-46) finished with eight wickets in the match while spinner Maharaj provided crucial support with 3-75.

Elgar stays unbeaten

Having overseen a victory in the West Indies and a home win over India, a drawn series in New Zealand means Dean Elgar is still yet to lose a series as South Africa captain. If a young attack keeps performing at this level, he will be able to look forward to plenty more victories.

England opener Zak Crawley insists he never feared for his Test career despite enduring a "horrible" run of form in 2021.

Crawley was dropped for parts of a year that saw him register just 173 runs at an average of 10.81.

A 77 in Sydney against Australia in January helped England to salvage draw in the fourth Ashes Test and avoid a series whitewash.

Crawley, who turned 24 this month, is hoping to build on that as England play West Indies in three Test matches with a new-look group after eight players were dropped.

"No, I didn't fear it was finished," Crawley told Sky Sports when asked if he was worried about his Test career. "I knew I was young and I always believed in myself.

"It was a horrible year last year in terms of the stats, but I thought it was a bit misleading actually – I felt like I was a bit unlucky with conditions in some places when I got a chance.

"So now when conditions are hopefully in my favour I need to make sure I cash in and make up for that

"You learn a lot more from your failures than your successes and I learned an awful lot about myself last year.

"I think I'm a lot better player for it – there are no certainties in life but I feel good about my game at the moment and hopefully I’ll score good runs in this series

"It still wasn't the runs I wanted but the way that I played [against Australia], I was pleased with. It's given me a platform to kick on from. I feel I understand my game a lot more now, after having a tough year.

"You create your own luck. Obviously, people trusted in me again and I'm looking to repay them and score a lot of runs for them this year and for England in general.

"I think we're going to have a good year and hopefully I can be a big part of that."

The first Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium starts on March 8.

England will be led by interim coach Paul Collingwood after Chris Silverwood was dismissed in the wake of the 4-0 Ashes loss.

"There's a lot of excitement about this series, we're loving being here in the Caribbean – it's a great place to travel to and play," added Crawley.

"We're really looking forward to the series and we're a positive group at the moment.

"It's pretty easy [to put the Ashes behind you]. We know what when wrong, we've analysed what we did wrong and we're looking to move forwards now. 

"You learn a lot in general from losing actually and it gives you a chance to bounce back strongly. I think we will during this series and in the coming year."

South Africa need six wickets on the final day for victory after Kyle Verreynne's maiden Test century left New Zealand needing to pull off a record run chase in the second Test.

New Zealand will resume on day five at 94-4, trailing by 332 runs after the Proteas declared at 354-9, setting the Black Caps an improbable target of 426 to win.

If the Proteas manage to clinch victory, it will deny New Zealand their first-ever Test series victory over South Africa after dominating the first Test at the same venue, Hagley Oval, last week.

New Zealand faced 42 overs after Dean Elgar's declaration late in the middle session, with Kagiso Rabada adding two more wickets to his first-innings five-wicket haul, while Keshav Maharaj also claimed two dismissals.

Verreynne was crucial to South Africa establishing complete dominance having resumed on day four at 5-140, with an overall lead of 211 runs.

The South African wicketkeeper-batsman was the perennial figure as the Proteas added 214 runs to their overnight score, with handy contributions from Wiann Mulder (35) and Kagiso Rabada (47), whose knock came from 34 balls and was a career high with the bat.

Verreynne and Rabada combined for a 78-run eighth-wicket stand which took the life out of New Zealand, who had hoped for a final-innings target no greater than 300.

Shortly after Rabada was dismissed, Verreynne brought up his maiden Test century swiping a length ball wide of fine leg.

Verreynne finished unbeaten on 136, with Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner all claiming two wickets each.

Tasked with a record run chase, New Zealand's pursuit started disastrously with Rabada dismissing Will Young and Tom Latham in the first and third overs. New Zealand were soon 25-3 when Maharaj - who sent down 16 overs in a row - bowled Henry Nicholls.

Devon Conway (60*) and Daryl Mitchell steadied the innings but Maharaj dismissed the latter for 24 late in the day.

Record run chase required

South Africa's declaration left New Zealand needing an unlikely 426 to win, which exceeds the current fourth-innings world record chase of 418 by West Indies against Australia in St John's in 2003. With the Black Caps four down, that is unlikely to be threatened.

Verreynne firming as worthy de Kock's successor

Verreynne's opportunity in the Proteas line-up has come following Quinton de Kock's premature retirement and he is beginning to prove he is the future for South Africa after only six Tests.

South Africa needs six wickets on the final day for victory after Kyle Verreynne's maiden Test century left New Zealand needing to pull off a record run chase in the second Test.

New Zealand will resume on day five at 94-4, trailing by 332 runs after the Proteas declared at 354-9, setting the Black Caps an improbable target of 426 to win.

If the Proteas manage to clinch victory, it will deny New Zealand their first-ever Test series victory over South Africa after dominating the first Test at the same venue, Hagley Oval, last week.

New Zealand faced 42 overs after Dean Elgar's declaration late in the middle session, with Kagiso Rabada adding two more wickets to his first-innings five-wicket haul, while Keshav Maharaj also claimed two dismissals.

Verreynne was crucial to South Africa establishing complete dominance having resumed on day four at 5-140, with an overall lead of 211 runs.

The South African wicketkeeper-batsman was the perennial figure as the Proteas added 214 runs to their overnight score, with handy contributions from Wiann Mulder (35) and Kagiso Rabada (47), whose knock came from 34 balls and was a career high with the bat.

Verreynne and Rabada combined for a 78-run eighth-wicket stand which took the life out of New Zealand, who had hoped for a final-innings target no greater than 300.

Shortly after Rabada was dismissed, Verreynne brought up his maiden Test century swiping a length ball wide of fine leg.

Verreynne finished unbeaten on 136*, with Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner all claiming two wickets each.

Tasked with a record run chase, New Zealand's pursuit started disastrously with Rabada dismissing Will Young and Tom Latham in the first and third overs. New Zealand were soon 25-3 when Maharaj  - who sent down 16 overs in a row - bowled Henry Nicholls.

Devon Conway (60*) and Daryl Mitchell steadied the innings but Maharaj dismissed the latter for 24 late in the day.

Record run chase required

South Africa's declaration left New Zealand needing an unlikely 426 to win, which exceeds the current fourth-innings world record chase of 418 by the West Indies against Australia in St John's in 2003. With the Black Caps four down, that is unlikely to be threatened.

Verreynne firming as worthy de Kock's successor

Verreynne's opportunity in the Proteas line-up has come following Quinton de Kock's premature retirement and he is beginning to prove he is the future for South Africa after only six Tests.

New Zealand rallied led by Colin de Grandhomme's century but South Africa remain well placed with a 211-run lead after three days of the second Test at Christchurch's Hagley Oval.

The Proteas reached stumps at 140-5 with Kyle Verreyne (22*) and Wiaan Mulder (10*) at the crease after securing a 71-run first-innings advantage having bowled out the hosts for 293 led by Kagiso Rabada's five-wicket haul

New Zealand had resumed trailing by more than 200 runs with five wickets in hand, but de Grandhomme's 133-run sixth-wicket stand with Daryl Mitchell narrowed the deficit.

De Grandhomme remained unbeaten 120*, notching up his second Test century prior to lunch, after Mitchell was trapped lbw by Keshav Maharaj for 60.

Rabada (5-60) and Marco Jansen (4-98), who had employed a short-ball plan, finished off the Black Caps' resistance in the second session despite Neil Wagner's aggressive 21 from 18 balls that included three fours and a six.

New Zealand offered hope with three early breakthroughs, reducing South Africa to 38-3 with Tim Southee (2-28) dismissing both openers.

Southee trapped first-innings centurion Sarel Erwee lbw for 8 in the third over with an inswinger which the opener reviewed without success.

Tom Blundell pulled off a brilliant one-handed catch in the 11th over as Southee drew an edge from Dean Elgar bowling around the wicket.

Rassie van der Dussen steadied South Africa's innings with 45 before being caught and bowled by workhorse Wagner (2-44) who also took Temba Bavuma's wicket in the final session during a tireless spell.

Verreyne and Mulder took the Proteas' lead past 200, although New Zealand will remain hopeful of claiming the final five wickets promptly on day four and chasing a target below 300.

Black Caps remain hopeful

New Zealand are incredibly chasing their first-ever Test series victory over South Africa and would have been confident of achieving that after a dominant first Test triumph.

The Proteas are in control but de Grandhomme suggested there was hope within the camp. He said: "I think it's in the balance, they're a bit ahead, but if we can get a few quick wickets tomorrow, we can be back in it."

Rabada claims 11th Test five-fa

Rabada wrapped up the New Zealand batting innings with wickets from successive deliveries, utilizing the short ball for both dismissals.

The pair of wickets earned 26-year-old Rabada his 11th Test five-wicket haul but he is likely to have more work to do, ahead of the Black Caps' final-innings chase.

South Africa took control of the second Test in Christchurch on day two as Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen ripped through the New Zealand top order.

An unbeaten partnership of 66 between Colin de Grandhomme (54 not out) and Daryl Mitchell (29 not out) rescued the Black Caps from 91-5 after the tourists had reached 364 all out in their first innings.

The Proteas resumed on 238-3, but lost four wickets in the first session as Matt Henry and Neil Wagner picked up two each, before Wagner also dismissed Rabada (6) shortly after play resumed.

There was a brief rain delay during the second session that seemed to take the bowlers out of their rhythm as Jansen (37 not out) and Keshav Maharaj (36) added a handy partnership of 62 runs in 13 overs.

New Zealand's reply got off to the worst possible start as Rabada (3-37) struck twice to get rid of Tom Latham for a duck and Will Young for just three. Devon Conway (16) and Henry Nicholls (39) put up some resistance but both ultimately fell to poor shots against Jansen (2-48).

After Tom Blundell came and went, scoring six runs in his six balls, Mitchell and De Grandhomme set about trying to rescue things for their team.

Mitchell ticked over calmly while De Grandhomme hit a 36-ball 50, including two sixes, though was held up after that, mostly by Maharaj's dangerous spin as he scored just four more runs from his next 25 deliveries.

Dean Elgar burned his team's last review with the penultimate delivery of the day as Lutho Sipamla thought he had Mitchell lbw, but replays showed an inside edge as the hosts closed day two still 207 runs behind with five wickets remaining.

Jansen continues impressive start to Test career

This is just the fifth Test Jansen has played in but he is already stepping up in key moments, hitting an impressive 37 not out to add what could be crucial runs at the end of South Africa's first innings, before also doing damage with the ball.

The 21-year-old took an impressive 19 wickets in three Tests against India, and although he and his team-mates all struggled in the first Test in New Zealand, he in particular has come back with a bang at the Hagley Oval.

De Grandhomme rolls back the years

It was a difficult moment to arrive at the crease with his team still 273 runs behind and five wickets down, but the 35-year-old utilised his trademark aggression and attacked South Africa's bowlers, hitting the only two sixes of the Test so far.

This was De Grandhomme's ninth 50 of his Test career, but he has only gone on to score a century once (v West Indies in 2017). New Zealand could really do with him doubling that amount on day three.

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