TELFORD VICE at the Basin Reserve
JEETAN Patel is friendly, chatty and quick to crack a smile. But Quinton de Kock would have been forgiven for waking up in a sweat at the thought of the New Zealand off-spinner these past three weeks.
That’s how long Patel has been dismissing the lashing left-hander for low scores: in two one-day internationals and in both innings of the drawn first test in Dunedin.
De Kock’s nightmare ended at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Friday, when he scored 91 – 37 of them off Patel – and shared a stand of 160 with Temba Bavuma, who made 89.
Their effort, which started after the visitors had crashed to 94/6, had everything to do with South Africa reaching stumps on 349/9 and earning a lead of 81 over New Zealand’s first innings of 268.
The New Zealanders won’t need reminding that only twice in their history have they overhauled bigger deficits to win tests.
So, had De Kock spent his time since the first test thinking about how to deal with Patel?
“Not at all,” De Kock said. “I was looking forward to the battle again.
“I have played against so many ‘offies’ in my life.
“I know Jeetan is a good bowler and he has me four out of four, but I knew I could still get on top of him if I just put my head down.
“It happened today, so it was nice to finally get one over him.”
That South Africa will resume batting on Saturday is due in no small part to Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, who have shared 47 for the 10th wicket.
Philander is 36 not out with Morkel on 31, his second-highest test score.
Morkel survived being hit squarely on the badge of his helmet by a bouncer from Tim Southee.
“He’s fine,” De Kock said of Morkel’s recovery from the blow.
“It’s just a little bump; nothing too bad.
“It looked like it hit him quite hard but it was quite funny.”
Neither Morkel nor Philander will find it funny if the strong winds forecast for Saturday materialise.
“If it’s a southerly and cold it’s going be tough work,” New Zealand fast bowler Neil Wagner said.
“It makes it tough whether you’re going into it or downwind.
“It’s quite hard to control your length and line at times.”