Player of the Match
Player of the Match

NZ openers solid after South Africa 314

De Kock stalls New Zealand despite finger trouble (1:41)

Firdose Moonda reports from Hamilton on a day when Quinton de Kock hit a rapid 90 to carry South Africa over 300 (1:41)

New Zealand 67 for 0 (Latham 42*) trail South Africa 314 (de Kock 90, du Plessis, 53, Amla 50, Henry 4-93) by 247 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Injured tendon? The liability New Zealand hoped to exploit became a blaring irritant to their hopes of levelling the series as Quinton de Kock - with a strapped finger on a splint - produced 90 runs of the highest quality. That he has turned 12 of his 29 innings into scores of 50 or more is testament to why South Africa wanted him in their XI for this Test, no matter what.

On a pitch supporting seam movement and under clouds promising swing, South Africa's 314 was a better-than-par total. To Tom Latham, it might have looked like a monstrous one. He had not passed 10 in the series, and suddenly had 28 overs to survive against Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada. By stumps, however, he had put on the highest opening partnership of the series with Jeet Raval. The determination both men showed, making 67 runs in the process, was necessary, considering they had let South Africa off the hook. A team that had been 190 for 6 should not have made it to 314.

Apart from undermining themselves, New Zealand were also fighting their weather. Forty nine overs were lost on the first day and a few more went down the drain at Seddon Park on the second. Both delays were caused by showers that did not last that long.

Perhaps the only reason Kane Williamson thought better of leaving the field to investigate who was sabotaging his team with repetitive rain dances was the wickets his bowlers were able to give him. Matt Henry, on comeback, was responsible for four of them. His strength is bowling a full length and controlling his line well enough to test batsmen outside off stump. So much that in 75 deliveries to right-handers, barely any slipped down the leg side.

De Kock, being left-handed, coped far better as he made 26 runs off 28 deliveries from New Zealand's stand-in spearhead. And if Henry couldn't make him budge, what chance did the rest have? De Kock launched Jeetan Patel's offspin for a six over midwicket. He carved cuts behind point when there was little room, and his pull shots were outstanding. He finished with 90 off 118 balls - an innings in defiance of a pitch that wasn't all that great for strokeplay.

It was slow as Temba Bavuma found out, toe-ending a pull to first slip. The humidity and cloud cover ensured there was consistent swing too. Knowing that - and perhaps the fact that a draw was enough to win another trophy - Faf du Plessis reached into his closet and put on his Adelaide gear: do as you please but you won't get past me. It wasn't that he was particularly troubled by the bowling. At a drinks break, when a chair was run out for him, the only way du Plessis could have looked more at home was if his dog Giorgio had been by his side and there a braai in the background. So calm was du Plessis, just sipping on his water and chatting with his partner.

New Zealand needed something magical to remove the South African captain, and they got it soon after he got to his 12th Test fifty. Latham, at short leg, saw du Plessis premeditating a lap sweep and began moving quickly to his right. He had already covered a yard or so when the ball came within his reach, and then, it was a matter of letting his reflexes take over and hoping they were good enough. Latham stuck out his right hand and secured a catch to give Mitchell Santner a wicket. The left-arm spinner had to wait 61 overs to get into the mix.

Williamson was far more partial to his quicks, and Henry would feel unlucky that he still does not have a five-for in Tests. He nabbed Philander, who became the sixth South African to the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets, with a teaser outside off stump. Latham did his bit again to enable the wicket with a fine catch, low to his right at second slip.

Henry found the edge again the very next ball, but it fell short of the cordon and Keshav Maharaj survived. Later, an inswinging yorker only just missed making a mess of Morkel's leg stump. Neil Wagner knocked over Rabada in the next over to finish the innings and deny his team-mate his fifth.

Amla's away drought


No. of consecutive away Test series Amla has now gone without a hundred. Has made 411 runs at 20.55 since his last away hundred - in Colombo, 2014.

NZ's lead


No. of first-innings lead taken by NZ in Tests v SA bigger than their 175-run lead in this match. Only one of them came after SA's readmission.

a first


No. of times before this New Zealand's top three batsmen had made a fifty-plus score in a Test innings at home.

In record time


No. of innings for Kane Williamson to reach 5000 Test runs, the fastest by a NZ cricketer, beating Martin Crowe

A rare opening act


No. of fifty opening stands for NZ v SA in 38 Test inns since 2000. NZ's 1st wicket had averaged only 17.43 from 37 inns v SA since 2000 before this.

In nineties again


No. of consecutive dismissals for Quinton de Kock in the 90s - 91 in the last Test and 90 in this Test.