Quinton de Kock and Stephen Cook put on a 133-run opening stand as South Africa reached 283-3 against New Zealand at stumps on the first day of the second test after being put in to bat on Saturday.
De Kock made 82 after shifting up the order to replace Dean Elgar, who was injured in training on Friday and ruled out on Saturday morning. Cook went for 56, Hashim Amla added 58, and JP Duminy was 67 not out as all of South Africa’s top four made half-centuries.
Neil Wagner (2-51) was the best bowler but New Zealand didn’t make the early progress it hoped for after winning the toss.
The second and final test will decide the short series after a weather—affected drawn first match. New Zealand is seeking its first test series win in South Africa.
Captain Kane Williamson’s decision to put South Africa in at SuperSport Park appeared to be the wrong one as De Kock and Cook came through a tricky start to build a solid platform.
De Kock hit 15 fours in his third test half—century, taking control of a partnership with the more measured Cook. They both survived chances in a luckless day for the New Zealanders, with De Kock dropped by wicketkeeper BJ Watling off an inside edge, and Cook surviving an lbw appeal that appeared to be out.
Left-handed wicketkeeper—batsman De Kock fell early in the afternoon session when he hit a hook shot to Trent Boult on the backward square leg boundary off Wagner. Cook edged to Williamson in the gully not long after that off seamer Doug Bracewell (1-65), who later left the field with what appeared to be a problem with his right hamstring.
Amla hit a fairly rapid half-century to continue South Africa’s momentum, an innings peppered with nine fours and a six. His 95-run stand with Duminy put the home team in a good position in the series-deciding game, with Duminy due to return on Sunday morning in search of his first test century in over two years.
Faf du Plessis, captaining South Africa in place of the injured AB de Villiers, was 13 not out alongside Duminy.