Slowly and surely does it for Proteas
South Africa 390/5 (Amla 110, Du Plessis 99*, Smith 54, Bracewell 2/76, Boult 1/87, Patel 1/87)
Hashim Amla continued the series trend of centurions not building on their overnight scores but Faf du Plessis washed away early flutters on a grey second morning.
There was not much spice in the pitch and the heavy cloud aided New Zealand’s duo of left-arm swing bowlers, but last night’s aggression was tempered down to little more than attrition.
It was South Africa’s slowest session in terms of runs scored, only 65 on a damp outfield slowed down by heavy overnight rain.
It slowed Amla’s progress, who added a measly four to his overnight 106. The conditions demanded a slow start and it seemed the Proteas learnt from their impulsive first day habits, picking the balls meritoriously and judiciously.
Trent Boult’s leg stump half volley, which Amla tickled into BJ Watling’s gloves, was as rank a bad ball as there could be, but it was just reward for disciplined bowling early on.
There were few boundary balls and the ones on offer were often left alone due to the cautious approach.
Doug Bracewell exploited the lack of foot movement early on and found a length that did not allow Du Plessis freedom of movement outside off stump.
There was some luck for him though, when he survived a leg-before review when he shouldered arms to one that did not come back enough from Neil Wagner, who bowled excellently.
Amla’s loss did not signal trouble, but an opportunity for Dean Elgar to stake a permanent number seven claim.
With Jeetan Patel not getting the same amount of turn and bite as in day one, Elgar launched into some delicate late cuts mixed with lofted sweeps and drives, dominating the 54-run boundary studded stand.
They were not of Amla’s standard but they were pressure relievers after the tight spell by the seamers. The bowling wind brought accuracy and nothing much for New Zealand.
They will need more than that to limit South Africa.