Quinton de Kock "knew straightaway" that he would come up against Jeetan Patel, but instead of dreading facing the offspinner who had dismissed him in his last four innings, de Kock was "not at all" anxious. Quite the opposite.
"I was looking forward to the battle again," de Kock said.
Patel was brought on to bowl the last over before lunch, nine balls after de Kock had arrived at the crease, and de Kock decided he would not be done in. "I have played against so many offspinners 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," de Kock said. "It happened today, so it was nice to finally get one over him."
Not only did de Kock survive Patel, but he also combined with Temba Bavuma to wrest the advantage in South Africa's favour.
"We knew the pressure was on us. The mindset was to somehow shift the pressure onto them. I didn't want to get bogged down, so the only way forward that I knew was to play my natural game," de Kock said. "I was obviously a little bit more aggressive than usual, but it was something that needed to be done."
Bavuma and de Kock scored 114 runs in 28 overs in the second session as the surface eased.
"As conditions flattened out, they made the most of it and played well," New Zealand fast bowler Neil Wagner conceded. "Full credit to de Kock and Bavuma, who showed lot patience and grafted through that period. You expect that from a quality team."
While de Kock already regarded South Africa's 81-run lead as good enough and anything more "a bonus," Wagner said New Zealand were "pretty happy with the position they are in." Southerly winds are set to pick up on Saturday, which will make bowling tough for South Africa, and if New Zealand can make sure they set a decent target, Wagner hopes Patel can still have a say - if not on de Kock, then on the outcome of the match.
"If it's a southerly and quite cold, it's going be tough work [to bowl]. It's quite hard to control your length and line at times," Wagner said. "I think Jeets [Patel] is definitely in the game. It does tend to bounce here and the footmarks deteriorate. It depends on how it deteriorates but Jeets definitely has a big role for us in the second innings."