The Proteas led by 372 runs with four second-innings wickets in hand at the end of day three of the second Test against New Zealand at Centurion.
A collapse, which saw the Proteas fall to 47-4, was merely a blip on what has been an excellent display from the hosts, as they ended up scrambling to 105-6.
To put the Proteas’ lead into perspective, the highest successful run-chase on this ground was 251, which England won in the infamous leather-jacket Test in 2000. The highest in South Africa came in 2009, when Australia successfully chased down 370. This would break the record.
Stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis had the opportunity to ask the New Zealanders to follow on, but with the pitch set to continue to deteriorate he opted against it, and it also gave the bowlers the chance to get some well-earned rest in what was an excellent display from the pacemen.
New Zealand went into day three on 38-3, this after Du Plessis’ century steered the Proteas to 481-8 declared. Steyn and Philander continued from where they left off in Durban and picked off the Kiwi top order with relative ease.
Captain Kane Williamson was resolute at the crease and top-scored with 77, but the only contributions elsewhere came from a streaky 36 from Henry Nicholls and 31 from Neil Wagner as they fell to 214 all out. Rabada also bowled excellently, firing in a series of nasty short balls and getting it up to 150km/h-plus to end up with figures of 3-62.
Quinton de Kock and Stephen Cook strode out to the crease effectively at 267-0, and De Kock did exactly what his team were looking for, a brisk, productive knock to take the game completely away from the Black Caps. And brisk it was. He scored boundaries off all four of his first four deliveries and by the end of the third over the Proteas were on 27-0.
De Kock played a lone role, though. Trent Boult got the ball to swing in nicely and that brought about the wicket of Cook for four who was struck square on the pads. 31-0 became 32-3 in the space of nine deliveries, as Tim Southee got involved with two quick strikes. First he got Hashim Amla to edge one to the slips for one, and then JP Duminy, who batted well for his 88 in the first innings, departed lbw for a third-ball duck.
Du Plessis also struggled to contain the swing and movement off the surface. His 28-ball battle yielded six runs as he became Boult’s second victim. Then came the partnership that all but deflated the tourists. De Kock struck a 42-ball 50 and by doing so became the first South African wicketkeeper to score fifties in both innings of a Test match. He only lasted one more delivery before Doug Bracewell had him, but it was the knock that SA needed to justify their decision to decline the follow on.
Stiaan van Zyl (5) was the sixth wicket to fall. Temba Bavuma (25) and Vernon Philander (3) will hope to inflict more damage on New Zealand in the morning session on day four.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/Backpage Pix