Two wickets in the second session gave New Zealand some encouragement after the Proteas had built a solid foundation on day one of the second Test at Centurion.
At tea, the Proteas were 182-2 off 54 overs, with Hashim Amla on 24 and JP Duminy on 14.
The two openers, who had worked so hard to blunt the New Zealand attack after being put in to bat on a nippy wicket, both fell within seven overs shortly after lunch.
They had done their job well, putting on 133 in 39 overs, but Quinton de Kock would be justified in feeling aggrieved after falling to an excellent catch just 18 runs short of his second Test hundred. He was followed by Stephen Cook, who had anchored the partnership, scoring 56 off 143 balls.
Both had been reprieved along the way: De Kock was dropped by a diving BJ Watling after offering thick inside edge off Doug Bracewell and Cook escaped when on 36, trapped lbw by Neil Wagner. But umpire Ian Gould said no and the Kiwis did not bother to review it.
It had proved an inspired move to promote De Kock, usually more comfortable opening in limited-overs cricket, to the No 1 spot after Dean Elgar had been injured in fielding practice on Friday. Stiaan van Zyl came in and was placed at No 7.
They put up a resolute show on a pitch which had a generous covering of grass. Indeed, there was a moment of hope when Trent Boult thought he had Cook lbw in the fourth over, but umpire Paul Reiffel believed, and was proved right, that there was a faint inside edge.
There were a few more nervous moments from great deliveries – more than one boundary came from an edge – but they were prepared to wait. The fifty came up in the 15th over after an hour’s play, with a four from De Kock; the ninth of the innings.
Those two took the score to 100 off the last ball of the morning session, and De Kock particularly came out firing in the second session, taking 12 runs off the first three balls from one Tim Southee over. He was looking good when he slightly mistimed a pull off Wagner for Boult to pocket, peddling back furiously on the boundary. His 82 contained 15 fours, striking at a rate of just on 72.
When Cook went, the Proteas had to rebuild at 151 for two, although there was a mighty scare when Amla, on 17, was given out lbw to a Boult inswinger. The review rescued him by a hair’s breadth.
It was honours even in that session, with the Proteas having added just 82.