Tea South Africa 218 for 6 (De Kock 63*, Bavuma 61*, de Grandhomme 3-33) trail New Zealand 268 by 50 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Quinton de Kock led South Africa’s recovery in the afternoon © AFP
Two hours of counter-attacking batting, the most dominant of the series so far, led by Quinton de Kock, pulled South Africa back into the second Test when they had been facing the prospect of a significant deficit. The top order had slipped to 94 for 6 against New Zealand’s variety of seamers, but de Kock and Temba Bavuma added an unbroken 124 for the seventh wicket.
The morning could barely have gone better for New Zealand as they picked up three frontline batsmen along with the nightwatchman. Tim Southee and Neil Wagner bounded in at good pace, but two of the key scalps went to the medium offerings of Colin de Grandhomme, who claimed Hashim Amla and then Faf du Plessis shortly before lunch.
Sixteen wickets in four sessions hustled the match forward, but both first innings have taken a similar shape with batting becoming easier as the ball softens. There was also some loose strokeplay by South Africa’s top order in the morning which was put into context by what followed as 114 runs came off 28 overs in the middle session.
Moments before the interval, de Kock was greeted by his nemesis Jeetan Patel, who has removed him the four times they have faced each other on this tour, but after one or two hairy moments either side of the interval he came through Patel’s first spell (and, as it would prove, only spell of the day by tea). He then started to cut loose against the pace, upper cutting Southee over the slips for six and hooking Wagner onto the grass banks.
At one stage, as he negotiated Patel, de Kock had 17 off 33 balls but then skipped to his half-century from 55 deliveries as the mood of the day swung back to South Africa. The short-pitched approach did not fluster him – it was arguably over-done – and Kane Williamson was soon on the retreat – a packed slip cordon replaced by scouts on the boundary.
Bavuma’s display was equally important. He, too, was targeted by the short ball and had one moment of fortune before lunch when he spliced a pull which looped over mid-on where de Grandhomme lost his footing. He was content to play second fiddle to the more free-flowing de Kock for significant periods, but moved to his second fifty of the series from 88 deliveries, in an innings were his off-side timing stood out.
South Africa had resumed on 24 for 2 with both openers already dismissed and Kagiso Rabada, the nightwatchman, soon joined them when Southee swung one through him in his first over. De Grandhomme had shared the early duties with Southee and was just threatening to release the pressure when JP Duminy took him for two boundaries. However, it did not take Wagner long to reassert New Zealand’s position when, with his seventh ball of the day, and first to JP Duminy, he claimed him for the third time in the season courtesy of a loose flick which picked out midwicket.
De Grandhomme then followed Southee after an eight-over spell with success coming almost immediately when Amla, still struggling to find his best form, could barely believe he had picked out midwicket against a delivery on his pads he would normally ease away for runs. Henry Nicholls, the star of the opening day for New Zealand, could not take the catch at the first attempt but was able to grab the rebound: when things run your way, make the most of them.
Faf du Plessis appeared keen to try and wrestle back the situation with aggression – top-edging Wagner for six when he was not in control of the pull – and shortly before lunch inside-edged a drive against de Grandhomme with BJ Watling taking a low catch. Parity was a long way off, but two hours later a South Africa lead loomed.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo