TELFORD VICE at Seddon Park
WHY South Africa went out of their way to ensure Quinton de Kock played in the third test against New Zealand was made clear here on Sunday.
The visitors were 148/5 when De Kock walked to the wicket in the eighth over of the day, and less than an hour later they were 190/6.
New Zealand were bowling with purpose and penetration on a willing pitch. The end of the innings surely was nigh …
But South Africa were not dismissed for the best part of another two hours of play, thanks largely to De Kock’s special brand of aggressive defiance.
His 90 was studded with 11 fours and two sixes, and had everything to do with South Africa reaching 314 before their last wicket fell.
At stumps, New Zealand were 67 without loss in reply.
De Kock’s participation in the match had been in doubt because of a tendon in his right index finger, which he injured during the second test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
Despite having brought a reserve wicketkeeper, Heinrich Klaassen, on tour in case of just such a situation, the South Africans’ medical staff fashioned a protective device especially for De Kock’s damaged digit to enable him to play.
The decision paid off handsomely, with De Kock batting through four partnerships worth between 29 and 46 runs and lasting from 7.2 to 12.5 overs.
Those look like modest figures in the greater scheme of things, but they are significant in the context of an innings that had seemed on its last legs when De Kock arrived at the crease.
South Africa resumed on 123/4, and a steady stand between Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma was ended when Matt Henry had a pulling Bavuma caught at first slip.
Thirteen overs later Du Plessis fell to a stunning catch by Tom Latham – who anticipated brilliantly when South Africa’s captain flicked a sweep off left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, flung his hands over his head, and snared the ball closer to leg slip than short leg, where he had been stationed.
Du Plessis made 53, his third half-century in four innings in the series, and Kagiso Rabada’s 34 was his career-best effort.
Henry’s 4/93 equalled his career-best figures and Neil Wagner took 3/104.