Hamish Marshall and Daniel Vettori will look to rescue a famous victory for the BLACKCAPS over their South African hosts at Centurion after staging a fight back on day four.
Opener Marshall played a dogged determined innings for his unbeaten 24, while State Northern Knights team-mate Vettori (18) took the initiative after Brendon McCullum was dismissed.
The wicketkeeper provided a characteristically positive contribution, hitting 33 from 38 balls, including two fours and a pair of sixes as the bulk of his 45-run, 35 minute stand with Marshall.
The BLACKCAPS ended a fourth day punctuated by weather delays on 98 for seven, needing 151 runs to win with three wickets in hand.
Their situation when rain end play early was a significant improvement on their predicament at lunch, when they were stricken on 34 for five.
Makhaya Ntini was the architect of their slump, having taken four wickets for 19 runs in a dramatic eight-overs spell.
He was supported by Dale Steyn, who claimed three wickets, as their Proteas’ opening bowlers exploited the advantageous conditions.
Earlier, the duo had refused to concede their team’s second innings easily, adding 19 to the total before Ntini was trapped lbw by Vettori for 16.
Chasing 249 to win, Ntini flourished as the BLACKCAPS could not make a start.
The paceman removed opener Peter Fulton, caught Mark Boucher for two, and Kyle Mills (no score) within the space of three third-over deliveries.
Steyn claimed the wickets of Stephen Fleming (six) and Scott Styris (two) before Ntini swept Nathan Astle and Jacob Oram, both for two.
McCullum took the fight to the hosts, but was caught by Boeta Dippenaar of Steyn during a truncated afternoon session.
The BLACKCAPS will need to display their fighting spirit once again, but they have already shown their determination in their first-innings recovery and by taking the match into a fifth and final day.