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South Africa look to counter New Zealand's 'patience' tactic

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'Steyn was one of my idols growing up' - Boult (1:22)

New Zealand bowler Trent Boult expresses his joy on playing against Dale Steyn and hopes they will be able to put pressure on South Africa in Johannesburg (1:22)

With 12 overs of high-quality swing and seam-bowling, South Africa feel they gained more than New Zealand, who took 87.4 overs to bowl them out, in the Durban washout.

"I'd like to believe we have the momentum on our side. Dale and Vernon would have sent some shivers down that batting line-up," Temba Bavuma said, although he remains wary of New Zealand's pace pack.

Steyn and Philander reduced New Zealand to 15 for 2, which seems like too little to base an advantage on but against the backdrop of South Africa's 263, it was the start of something and a re-start for the bowling pair. Both Steyn and Philander were making comebacks to the Test team and even Trent Boult admitted he was impressed with what he saw.

"Dale Steyn is one of my favourite bowlers," Boult said. "He was one of my idols growing up. Any chance I get to play against him is always exciting. I could almost sit there and watch every ball he bowls."

For all their bowling success, South Africa know they did not bat well enough on the first day to make a strong enough statement about the kind of Test cricket they want to play going forward. South Africa want to start more aggressively, they want to pre-empt pressure situations so they can avoid them and they want to dominate, but in their innings in Durban they did not do any of that for a long enough period of time to be satisfied. "There's definitely that feeling of disappointment. The batters that were in should have converted. That would have been the difference between what we got and 350," Bavuma said.

Bavuma was one of those who got in and he batted longer than anyone else. In his two hours and 26 minutes in the middle, he faced all six New Zealand bowlers and survived all their seamers. Bavuma got a first-hand look at how their pace pack operates and what kind of problems they pose in the must-win match at Centurion.

"You can see why Tim Southee and Trent Boult are up there in the bowling rankings. Their skill is impeccable. They keep asking the right questions," Bavuma said. "If they were to get onto a wicket that assisted them more, they would be quite a force."

That's why New Zealand's attack will be disappointed to learn that SuperSport Park's pitch is unlikely to be as helpful as Kingsmead's, which had a healthy grass covering. Because of the time of year, groundsman Rudolph du Preez, who started preparing the surface almost three weeks ago, anticipates the early-season pitch to be less lively than he would get in mid-summer, and even suggested it could be more like a New Zealand pitch than a South African one. Ordinarily, that would be something Boult would look forward to but not this time. "I don't know if low and slow is music to my ears, being a fast bowler," he said.

With not a cloud in the sky since New Zealand arrived, Boult also does not expect overhead conditions to work in favour of the pace pack and suggested they will have to stick to "the similar stuff that works for us", which is "not much more than trying to put pressure on the guys".

New Zealand are good at that, as Bavuma confirmed. "They are quite patient," he said. "They tested my balance so I had to make sure I was on the front foot more than being on the back foot and I had to choose the right times to apply pressure back on them."

Bavuma handled New Zealand's bowling for a while but not for as long as he would have wanted. His dismissal exposed the lower middle order and highlighted South Africa's areas of vulnerability. With the top two still settling into their roles, and the two most experienced middle-order batsmen - Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy - battling for form, there are several soft spots but New Zealand are not taking the batting line-up lightly. "If we get one or two wickets, we don't think we are going to roll through them," Boult said.