New Zealand were 67-0 and trailed by 247 runs at stumps on day two in Hamilton.
At a glance, it may appear as if the momentum is with New Zealand. Tom Latham and Jeet Raval finished day two in confident form. The hosts will begin day three with 10 first-innings wickets in hand.
However, a closer look at the situation confirms that the Kiwis are in a race against time. Nearly 70 overs have been lost to rain delays in the first two days of this third and decisive Test, and more rain is expected to hit Seddon Park on days three, four, and five.
While the Proteas should be disappointed with their inability to make a breakthrough late on day two, they have no reason to panic. The pressure is on New Zealand to force a result over the final three days, days that are likely to be interrupted by rain.
That said, the Proteas will breathe a little easier after posting 314 in their first innings. South Africa were 190-6 at one stage. Thanks to the aggressive batting of Quinton de Kock and the lower order, the visitors added as many as 114 runs for the last four wickets.
De Kock simply refused to be contained. The powerful left-handed batsman took on the spinners and seamers alike, and finished with 90 runs off 118 balls.
De Kock also contributed to several key partnerships towards the end of the South African innings. His positive approach rubbed off on Kagiso Rabada (34 runs off 31 balls) and Morné Morkel (nine off five).
Going forward, the Proteas have to address the lack of substantial partnerships up the order. Several batsmen got starts, but then perished through poor shot selection. The Proteas were fortunate that De Kock received such great support from the lower order.
New Zealand may come to regret letting the Proteas off the hook during that period of the game. After reducing South Africa to 190-6, they may have fancied their chances of bowling the visitors out for 260. As it was, they allowed the Proteas to score 50 or 60 bonus runs.
Latham and Raval have made a good start for the hosts, but the pressure will not ease until they have surpassed South Africa’s score and built up a substantial lead.
SA 314 (1st innings) – Quinton de Kock 90, Faf du Plessis 53, Matt Henry 4-93, Neil Wagner 3-104
NZ 67-0 (1st innings) – Tom Latham 42 not out, Jeet Raval 25 not out
New Zealand trail by 247 runs
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