If the Proteas go on to win the Test series against New Zealand, it will probably be mostly down to Quinton de Kock.
The precocious wicketkeeper-batsman set up last week’s win in Wellington and – injured finger and all – saved his side again on Sunday on the second day of the third and final Test in Hamilton.
De Kock was simply magnificent again in racing to a superb 90 off just 118 deliveries, an almost exact replica of the effort in Wellington.
He hit 11 fours and two sixes as South Africa eventually managed a fairly competitive 314 on an interesting surface.
The Proteas’ total seemed particularly decent when New Zealand’s out-of-form top order needed to survive 28 overs against the new ball.
But Tom Latham (42*) and Jeet Raval (25*) were excellent and patient in guiding the home side to 67/0 at stumps.
They have a fine platform on Monday to put South Africa under pressure.
The Proteas’ day could’ve been worse had it not been for De Kock.
Resuming on 123/4, Temba Bavuma (29) looked set for another productive innings before he actually managed to edge a pull shot to first slip off Matt Henry (4/93).
It was a strange way to get out but he basically just misjudged the pace of the pitch.
Worse was to follow with Faf du Plessis.
The Proteas skipper had battled well in crafting 53 before being brilliantly caught by Latham at short leg after he tried to play a paddle sweep.
Some would say Latham’s catch was freakish but the skill was undeniable.
As a result, De Kock only had the lower order for company and it wasn’t until he was joined by Kagiso Rabada that he got decent support.
Rabada was aggressive in making 34 off 31 as the magical 300-mark was finally reached.
But the bowling didn’t quite manage to add value to that score.