South Africa 218-6 at tea on day 2, 2nd test vs. NZ

South Africa's Jean-Paul Duminy walks from the field after he was dismissed during the second cricket test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, New Zealand, Friday, March 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Ross Setford, SNPA)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma reached half centuries in an unbroken 124-run partnership for the seventh wicket which stabilized South Africa’s first innings after lunch on day two of the second test against New Zealand.

South Africa was 104-6 at lunch, struggling in its reply to New Zealand’s 268. But through de Kock and Bavuma’s efforts on a flattening wicket at the Basin Reserve the Proteas were 218-6 at tea, trailing by only 50 runs.

De Kock, the aggressor, reached his eighth half century in tests from 55 balls, in 78 minutes with six fours and two sixes and was 63 not out at lunch. Bavuma, the perfect foil for de Kock, took 88 balls and 132 minutes to reach his fifth half century, which included five boundaries, and was 61.

The second session featured a continuation of the developing rivalry between de Kock and New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel. The 36-year-old Patel has dismissed de Kock four times in tests and one-day internationals in New Zealand this summer, including twice – for 10 and 4 – in the drawn first test in Dunedin.

Playing his first international match on his home ground in Wellington, Patel hoped to continue that ascendancy but, though he caused the batsman a few nervous moments early on, he found de Kock in better form than in Dunedin.

De Kock was able to settle in and regained the confidence and fluency missing in Dunedin. New Zealand failed to apply the pressure necessary to staunch his scoring shots and which led to his downfall earlier in the series,

Instead, the Proteas wicketkeeper was able to score freely, especially with pull shots and drives down the ground, helping tip the balance of the match a little in South Africa’s favor.

The first session belonged to New Zealand as it claimed four wickets to reduce South Africa from 24-2 at the resumption to 104-6. Colin de Grandhomme claimed two wickets, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner one each, and first innings century-maker Henry Nicholls took two catches at midwicket as New Zealand appeared to take charge.

But the second session was South Africa’s as de Kock and Bavuma added 114 runs in what was the first session of the series to pass without a wicket, after 16 had fallen in the previous four sessions in Wellington.