Jeet Raval and Tom Latham put on an unbeaten 67-run stand for the opening wicket to help New Zealand take command of the third Test at the Seddon Park in Hamilton.
The duo began cautiously, but once the innings and the partnership looked steady, they started playing their strokes. While yet calculated in nature, they ensured the scoreboard moved at a healthy pace. Raval dug in but Latham was more freeflowing with his approach.
Play began half an hour earlier on Sunday (March 26) to compensate for the loss of overs on the opening day. It wasn’t the best of start for the the visitors with overnight batsman Temba Bavuma departing early, getting an edge to a short and wide delivery to the slip fielder. His partner Faf du Plessis, however, did well to reach to his half century, before a superbly-judged catch by Latham at short leg ended his innings abruptly.
By then, in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock had already taken the attack to the New Zealand bowlers. He had clobbered four boundaries and a six and continued in that momentum even with the lower order. Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada offered good support at the other end to help the southpaw unleash his rampage on the hosts.
The first session went on without any rain interruption, the first such instance in the third Test. 120 runs were added during the two and a half hour of play, with three wickets to New Zealand’s credit as the tourists pushed their total to 243 for 8.
There was hardly any action in the second session, with only 4.2 overs being bowled, resulting in the umpires pushing for an early Tea break.
De Kock came and started attacking the bowlers in the post-Tea session, but ended up getting trapped leg before off Neil Wagner. the batsman opted for a review, but there was nothing going his way, and had to walk back to the pavilion, 10 short of another century.
While Matt Henry added two more wickets to his tally in the first session, it was Wagner’s short-pitched bowling which proved more difficult for the lower-order batsman. The left-arm pacer accounted for three late wickets to wrap up South Africa’s first innings on 314.
Brief Scores: South Africa 314 (Quinton De Kock 90, Faf du Plessis 53, Hashim Amla 50; Matt Henry 4-57, Colin De Grandhomme 3-104) lead New Zealand 67/0 (Tom Latham 42*, Jeet Raal 25*) by 247 runs.