Hamilton: Quinton de Kock batted through the pain of a damaged finger to bolster South Africa with a defiant 90 as the deciding Test against New Zealand was evenly poised at the end of day three in Hamilton on Sunday.
In the rain-disrupted Test, New Zealand were 67 without loss at stumps, with a rejuvenated Tom Latham on 42, in reply to South Africa’s 314.
The injured de Kock and previously out-of-form Latham were the individual stars in the deciding Test with South Africa 1-0 up and New Zealand needing a win to draw the series.
De Kock, playing with damaged ligaments in his right index finger, went to the middle with South Africa 148 for five and he held the innings together while the bottom half of the batting order added a further 166.
South African batting coach Neil McKenzie described de Kock as “a unique player” who needed painkillers to get through the day.
“We’re threatening to get bowled out for around 200 and he comes and gets a really quality 90,” McKenzie said.
“There’s a few tablets, anti-anti-inflammatories and that sort of stuff but Quinton doesn’t mind he just gets on with it.
“But I definitely see he was very uncomfortable.”
Latham, who managed 24 in total in three previous innings in the series, put his string of low scores behind him to ensure a positive start to Zealand’s reply with Jeetan Raval who was 25 not out at stumps.
New Zealand bowling coach Shane Jurgensen said Latham was buoyed by a standout performance in the field highlighted by an instinctive catch at short leg to remove Faf du Plessis.
“I think the game’s evenly poised. The two openers have set us up with a good start,” Jurgensen said.
Latham “got a lot of confidence from his fielding. He took that into his batting today. He’s got some confidence”.
Just as de Kock’s 91 in the first innings in Wellington set South Africa up for an eight-wicket victory, he again tormented New Zealand with his trouble-free approach.
His 90 came off only 118 balls, highlighting why captain Faf du Plessis was determined to have him play despite the wicketkeeper-batsman’s injury.
He hit 11 fours and two huge sixes, one off New Zealand’s best performed bowler Matt Henry and one off Jeetan Patel, as he dominated the off-spinner who had claimed his wicket cheaply in the drawn first Test. But 10 runs short of his century he played across the line to Neil Wagner and was out lbw.
South Africa resumed the day at 123 for four and after Henry removed Temba Bavuma for 29, du Plessis progressed to 53 before a smart piece of fielding by Latham at short leg.
On the third ball of Mitch Santner’s opening over, Latham anticipated du Plessis was going to sweep and before the shot was played he was moving to his right where he flung out an arm to take the close-range catch.
Latham took another classy catch, just above ground level to his right at second slip to remove Vernon Philander for 11 off Henry.
Henry equalled his career best figures with four for 93, while Neil Wagner, who took three for an expensive 104, ended the South Africa innings with the wicket of the hard-hitting Kagiso Rabada who scored 34 off 31 deliveries.
South Africa (first innings)
T. de Bruyn c Latham b Henry 0
D. Elgar b de Grandhomme 5
H. Amla b de Grandhomme 50
J. Duminy c Patel b Henry 20
F. du Plessis c Latham b Santner 53
T. Bavuma c Raval b Henry 29
Q. de Kock lbw Wagner 90
V. Philander c Latham b Henry 11
K. Maharaj c Watling b Wagner 9
K. Rabada c Watling b Wagner 34
M. Morkel not out 9
Extras (lb1, w3) 4
Total (all out, 89.2 overs) 314
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (de Bruyn), 2-5 (Elgar), 3-64 (Duminy), 4-97 (Amla), 5-148 (Bavuma), 6-190 (du Plessis), 7-219 (Philander), 8-249 (Maharaj), 9-295 (de Kock), 10-314 (Rabada)
Bowling: Henry 24-2-93-4 (2w), de Grandhomme 24-4-62-2, Wagner 25.2-2-104-3 (1w), Patel 7-0-30-0, Santner 9-3-24-1
New Zealand 1st innings
T. Latham not out 42
J. Raval not out 25
Total (no wickets, 25.3 overs) 67
Bowling: Philander 8-2-15-0, Morkel 7-2-13-0, Rabada 5-1-25-0, Maharaj 5.3-0-14-0
Toss: South Africa
Series: South Africa lead 1-0
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS), Rod Tucker (AUS)
Third umpire: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)