Faf du Plessis soaked up the pressure and edged towards three figures as the Proteas went into tea on 437-6.
The wicket of Stiaan van Zyl spoiled what would have been a perfect session for the Proteas, who are in a commanding position on a pitch offering plenty of encouragement to the fast bowlers.
Du Plessis was looking stagnant and nervous in the first session and was lucky not to have been caught off one of his top edges, but he decided to play with a bit more freedom just before lunch, and carried that through with distinction in the second session.
His half century marked the second time in their Test history that the top five all scored half-centuries, but, unlike the other four, the stand-in skipper is closing in on a century. While JP Duminy scored the majority of the runs in the first session, Du Plessis scored 40 of the 50 run-partnership between him and Stiaan van Zyl with a fluent flow of boundaries to leave him five runs short of a fifth Test century.
The Proteas went into the second session on 358-5, and Van Zyl, returning to the side at No 7, looked comfortable at the crease for his 35, before he edged one to slip off Neil Wagner. Wagner’s relentless efforts has seen him pick up four wickets, but one man he can’t get is his old Affies schoolmate Faf du Plessis.
The average first-innings score at Centurion from the previous five Tests has been 458, and the hosts look set to go past that comfortably. Should the Proteas continue to have wickets in hand, they might well decide to declare late on in the final session. The Black Caps have an almighty task on their hands from here.
Photo: Ryan WIlkisky/Backpage Pix