'Felt I could get out at any time' - de Villiers
If ever a score was misleading in the way it was obtained, it was AB de Villiers' 83. De Villiers' started off at almost a run-a-ball, approached the New Zealand bowlers with the most positive of mindsets and kept attacking them, but later revealed that he actually felt tentative and anxious throughout his innings.
"I felt under pressure the whole time. I felt I could get out at any time," de Villiers said at the end of day two. "There's something there [for the bowlers] and if you get a bit loose out there you're going to lose your wicket. That's what I felt the whole time. I never really felt in. I think that sums it up really nicely. You're just never in. You can't let go of your concentration for one minute."
De Villiers occupied the crease from mid-morning to late in the South Africa innings. He was a spectator to the collapse, which resulted in them teetering on 88 for 6, and was the architect of the recovery, ushering the tail past New Zealand's total. None of that sounds particularly easy and de Villiers confirmed that it wasn't. "They bowled extremely well, especially Mark Gillespie, they just never let go," he said. "The ball was moving around nicely. Obviously, they looked after the ball well, it was swinging both ways."
Although day two was talked up as a batting day, with clear skies and fairly warm sunshine, de Villiers said there was enough in the surface and the air to assist the bowlers. "There's a bit more swing with the sun out, when it gets a bit warmer," he said. "It's weird because you say you want overcast conditions [for swing]. But it probably moves around a bit more off the seam when it's overcast and it swings a bit more when it's warmer."
He lauded the New Zealand pitches for being "really good Test wickets" and ensuring that they are "no boring sessions", but was visibly upset with the part South Africa's line-up played in maintaining the excitement. While a middle-order collapse has become an all too familiar thing this summer, de Villiers said it had a lot to do with incisive bowling. "You can never ever take it away from the bowling," he said. "I won't say that the top six have failed because it's just poor batting … that will be very unfair towards the bowlers."
When the same thing happened in Dunedin and South Africa were bowled out for under 250, Graeme Smith revealed that a stern talking to from Gary Kirsten had put the pieces back together for their second innings. While de Villiers did not say whether the same thing had happened here, he said the same mistakes that had been made at University Oval were committed by the line-up at Seddon Park. "We were very disappointed with the way we played," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and say I am very proud of that knock. I thought we did well [in the end] but all in all, we're very disappointed with the way we played out there."
Neither team has shone with the bat so far, which makes identifying a target that will be relatively simple to chase close to impossible for de Villiers. "I can't tell you what's going to be a good total to chase down here, I don't think any of us are sure at the moment," he said. But, with New Zealand not even in the lead yet and four of their best batsmen back in the change-room, South Africa will feel in control. "We'd like to get a couple of early wickets tomorrow, to make things a bit easier for us," de Villiers said.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent