South Africa 283 for 3 (de Kock 82, Duminy 67*, Amla 58, Cook 56) v New Zealand
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A day of thorough domination, something South Africa's Test team hasn't enjoyed for a few months. Their top four batsmen - Quinton de Kock, Stephen Cook, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy - all struck fifties as the hosts finished at 283 for 3 after they had been put into bat by Kane Williamson at Supersport Park.
South Africa's newest opening combination, de Kock and Cook, laid the groundwork for the middle order to capitalise by adding 133, South Africa's best first-wicket partnership since 2014. Amla and Duminy were initially circumspect after the tea break, but runs flowed as the final session wore on. In between a number of delectable boundaries, which included an upper cut over third man for six, Amla brought up his fourth successive fifty-plus score in Centurion.
At a time when batting seemed easiest, however, left-arm seamer Neil Wagner brought one back in sharply from around the wicket and kissed Amla's outside edge. It required such a delivery to leave Amla in disbelief.
Duminy's place in South Africa's Test side was under scrutiny going into the Test, and he had an immediate stroke of luck when a first-ball edge of Doug Bracewell did not carry to second slip, because of the slowness of the surface. Duminy used his luck to compile a diligent and unbeaten 67, an innings laced with sweetly-timed drives and flicks, his confidence and footwork improving with every stroke.
The differences from Durban were stark when play had begun under a blue Centurion sky. The absence of cloud cover and the slower nature of the pitch meant South Africa's openers were comfortable off the back foot as long as they did not waft at inviting lengths.
In the first session, they thrived after weathering a testing spell from Southee and Boult, both of whom hit exemplary lengths. After being watchful during the first hour, de Kock - opening because Dean Elgar had sprained his ankle while training on the eve of the Test - and Cook capitalised in the second. As de Kock got bolder and Cook more resolute, regular offerings of width coupled with pick-off-the-pads deliveries helped them score boundaries on both sides of the wicket. South Africa were 100 for 0 at lunch.
New Zealand's bowlers were forced to use the most trusted plan of their African journey, a barrage of short balls, to stall the hosts during the middle session.
Both Southee and Wagner resorted to bouncers to de Kock with a leg gully and deep square leg in place. De Kock, though, did not shy away. Wagner, bowling from around the wicket, delivered three successive short balls, one of which de Kock backed away from and ramped over the slip cordon. Wagner was mature and experienced, de Kock was young and exuberant. It was a test, and Wagner's next well-directed bouncer accounted for de Kock, who pulled compulsively and was caught at fine leg.
After bringing up his half-century, Cook seemed to lose his discipline in leaving deliveries he did not need to play. A couple of loose drives, bat away from the body and feet rooted in the crease, whistled through cover but another such shot ended his innings. A thick skew off the outside half carried low to Kane Williamson at gully, and New Zealand had an opening. Until Amla closed it again.
About ten overs after Amla fell with the score on 246 for 3, New Zealand took the new ball as soon as it was available. Barring gentle swing, though, they found nothing to trouble Faf du Plessis and Duminy, both of whom were intent on keeping straight deliveries out and leaving whenever they could.
The Decision Review System did not aid New Zealand either, with two lbw decisions - Duminy on 44 and Amla on 17 - reversed. There were two more lbw appeals that replays indicated would have been overturned but Williamson chose not to review. As a result, New Zealand endured the worst day of their African sojourn and needed to make a strong comeback if they are to challenge for their first Test series win against South Africa.