Kane Williamson remained unbeaten on 148 on Day Three    AFP
Kane Williamson remained unbeaten on 148 on Day Three AFP

It was New Zealand all the way on yet another rain-affected day as they took a vital first-innings lead of 7 runs, on Day Three of the third and final Test in Hamilton at stumps. Kane Williamson played a lone battle in the final hour of the last session, with Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel claiming 3 successive wickets in form of Jeet Raval, Henry Nicholls and Neil Broom. However, Williamson found his way into the record books and he scored his 17th Test century, thereby equalling Martin Crowe in hitting most centuries for New Zealand. Williamson was also involved in a huge 190-run stand for the second wicket with Jeet Raval, which happens to be the best stand for the Kiwis against South Africa for that wicket. At the end of the third day, Mitchell Santner, batting on 13, was providing support to Williamson, who remained unbeaten on 148 with New Zealand ending the day at 321 for 4. Full Cricket Scorecard: New Zealand vs South Africa, 3rd Test at Hamilton

Beginning the final session at 209 for 1, Williamson was off the mark with successive boundaries off JP Duminy. A rather frustrated Faf du Plessis brought in the part-timer Dean Elgar into the attack. However, that paved the way for more runs for New Zealand as Elgar bowled 4 consecutive full-tosses off which Raval smashed 1 and Williamson 2 boundaries. Williamson got to his century off 153 deliveries and Raval also went past his previous highest Test score of 80, which he had scored in the second innings of the second Test at Wellington.

Williamson got to his century off 11 fours and 2 sixes. With the new ball taken after the 79th over as the ball had lost its shape, New Zealand reached the 250-run mark by 82.1 overs. By then, Raval had added 8 more runs to his score of 75 and Williamson added 33 runs to his score of 80, while heading to tea. Williamson took the attack to the South African bowlers as he slammed the third six, this time off Morkel towards the square leg.

But Quinton de Kock showed no signs of injury as he grabbed three catches. A delivery from Morkel broke the stubborn second wicket partnership between Raval and Williamson, with wicketkeeper picking the priced scalp of Raval for 88 by diving towards the right to take the catch.

Interestingly, Raval and Williamson held the similar record of scoring most runs for the second wicket, which was set not long ago. At Dunedin, Raval and Williamson had added 102 runs.

Broom tried to continue the momentum with two successive boundaries, but soon fell victim to Rabada s leg-before appeal.

Rabada had an opportunity get a hat-trick after removing Nicholls as well for a golden duck. However, Santner played with watchfulness and ensured New Zealand took lead by 103.1 overs.

Earlier in the day, Williamson and Raval s century-stand kept New Zealand in command. They were trailing by 105 with 9 wickets intact by tea. Unfazed by the early setback of Latham in the first session, Williamson and Raval continued their repair work with Williamson taking the call of the shots.

Ahead of the tea break, Williamson slammed a maximum off Philander over the square leg to become the third youngest and fastest New Zealand cricketer to 5,000 Test runs. He took 110 innings to reach the milestone, seven fewer than the previous best of Crowe s 117.

Rain delayed the start of Day Three with the first session reduced to 90 minutes. New Zealand added 65 runs to their overnight score of 67 before lunch and in the second session added another 77 runs despite bad weather. Latham, who had a drought of runs in the series, raised his 13th Test fifty and the first in the series. However, he was removed in a familiar fashion, this time the edge was off Morkel, handing him his 250th Test wicket with de Kock diving to his left to take the catch one-handed.

Raval, on the other hand, played cautiously and handled the seamers Philander, Morkel and Rabada with ease succeeding in working the ball around for a lot of singles and doubles.

With Williamson on 47 there was a break in play when the umpires decided the ball needed to be changed, which upset the South African skipper. With the change in the ball, Williamson then struck a fine fifty with a couple of runs off Maharaj.

Brief scores:

South Africa 314 (Hashim Amla 50, Faf du Plessis 53, Quinton de Kock 90, Kagiso Rabada 34; Matt Henry 4 for 93, Neil Wagner 3 for 104) trail New Zealand 321 for 4 (Tom Latham 50, Jeet Raval 88, Kane Williamson 148*; Morne Morkel 1 for 74, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 83) by 7 runs.