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Bavuma, de Kock follow through on Hobart promise

Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma rescued South Africa with a stand of 160 for the seventh wicket Getty Images

The chance of a team making more than 300 after losing its first six wickets for less than 100 is a little more than 1%. It has happened only 10 times in 946 innings in Test cricket. Before the second day in Wellington, the most recent example was New Zealand's effort against South Africa in 2006.

Then, it was the experience of Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori that rescued New Zealand. Now, it was the youth of Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock that allowed South Africa to feed the hosts some of their own medicine and once again show that they belong.

In de Kock's case, there was no doubt about his talent but there was a narrative starting to develop about his vulnerability against Jeetan Patel. New Zealand's offspinner had dismissed de Kock four times out of four - which also happened to be his last four innings - and even though the South African camp brushed it off as an anomaly, they could not ignore it. Neither could New Zealand, who picked Patel partly on his form against de Kock, ahead of Mitchell Santner in this Test.

Faf du Plessis had said before the match that he thought de Kock was a smart enough cricketer to have worked out how to play Patel. In the same breath, he also explained de Kock's approach was usually not to over-think, and sometimes not to think at all. De Kock is an instinctive player who does not care about records or jinxes.

He would not have lost sleep over Patel especially because two of those - the hole out to long-off in the fifth ODI and the slice to backward point in the first innings in Dunedin - were shots de Kock could have played against any bowler. The other two - the first-baller in the fourth ODI, when the ball turned away and took the outside edge, and the way he was bowled in the second innings at University Oval - by a perfect delivery that pitched on leg and turned to hit the top of off, suggested a few technical adjustments needed to be made. But de Kock is not the kind of batsman who dwells on things. He prefers to operate in the moment. When he was needed on the second day, that moment was tense.

When de Kock walked out to bat with South Arica 94 for 6 in the morning session, it would have been obvious what he needed to do. Not make it 94 for 7, that's it. But de Kock has not been one for hanging around and even though the situation was precarious and the lunch break was imminent, de Kock was not going to bat any differently. Two of his first three shots indicated that had not changed. He flashed at a wide ball and then missed a flick down leg off Colin de Grandhomme. He might have known that would be the last he saw of the seamer for a while.

Patel, who had joked that he would not have minded being picked to play on his home ground just to get de Kock out, was tasked with bowling the final over of the session and maybe, just maybe, his job would have been done with the first ball, filthy as it was. Patel produced a long-hop, de Kock pushed it to point, Jeet Raval fell over his feet while misfielding and it would all have been a bit funny had Patel not snarled in his team-mate's direction and the rest of his team-mates joined the growl.

They "oohed" as de Kock defended twice, solidly, and "ahhed" loudly when he came out of his crease to push to midwicket. They combined that into "oooaaaaa" when de Kock was hurried by the last ball of the session, went back to cut and almost played on. Almost.

It was just one over but it was an over that could have set the tone for the rest of the day. On sound, it was as tense as those between Warne and Cullinan. But in sight, it had none of the nuances. Patel was not trying to trick de Kock; de Kock was not trying to survive. They would not spar for the rest of the afternoon. As du Plessis suspected, de Kock had found a way to succeed against Patel, by waiting for width and smearing it through the off side and using his feet better to get to the pitch of the ball. By the time Patel was taken off after a six-over spell with no reward, de Kock had tucked the demons into bed, complete with a bedtime story and a hot-water bottle.

For Bavuma, the need to make an impact was more pressing. His only hundred is now more than a year in the past and although he broke a drought of seven innings without a half-century in Dunedin, he needs a big score to take proper ownership of the middle-order spot.

Much like Ashwell Prince, Bavuma is a man for crises. He literally thrives off the back foot. At a little under 5'3", Bavuma learned his trade by hanging back in his crease and all the short balls Neil Wagner, Tim Southee and Jimmy Neesham sent down - 45 in total - were not enough to scare him. Not even the one that he had to leap off the ground to try and ramp. Not even when he missed completely. Bavuma has confidence in his ability to hook, pull and cut and with good reason. Almost half of his 89 runs (42) came behind square and none were scored down the ground.

Together, Bavuma and de Kock complement each other perfectly. They take pressure off each other because Bavuma knows de Kock will keep the scoreboard moving and de Kock knows Bavuma will show the caution required at the other end. They trust each other to play the situation as it should be played.

In Hobart, Bavuma and de Kock gave South Africa a glimpse of what their batting future could look like. In Wellington, they followed through on that promise. Although neither of them went on to score a century, in years to come, they are sure to right that.