South Africa 314, NZ 67-0 at stumps on day 2, 3rd test

BY AP • March 26, 2017

HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) Quinton de Kock ignored shooting pain from an injured finger to make 90 and bolster South Africa's first innings Sunday on the rain-affected second day of the third cricket test against New Zealand.

After innings of 50 by Hashim Amla and 53 by captain Faf du Plessis, and before Kagiso Rabada made his highest test score of 34, de Kock's 118-ball innings gave substance to the South African innings, which ended at 314 just after tea.

New Zealand openers Tom Latham and Jeet Raval then negotiated a difficult period before stumps in an extended final session to reach 67-0 in their strongest partnership of the three-match series.

Latham showed signs of emerging from a prolonged slump by reaching 42 not out after his previous innings in the series of 10, 8 and 6 and his scores of 4, 7, 0, 0 , 2 and 0 in his last six one-day internationals. Jeet Raval, who already has two half centuries and a highest score of 80 in the series, was 25 not out.

The match, in keeping with the series which South Africa leads 1-0, has been tight throughout. The Proteas were 123-4 at the end of a first day restricted to 41 overs due to rain. They advanced to 243-7 by lunch Sunday after the only uninterupted session in the match so far, scoring 120 while New Zealand took three wickets.

Almost all of the middle session was lost to rain - in 4.2 overs, South Africa advanced to 258-8.

After further delays, de Kock was the ninth man out 10 runs short of his fourth test century. He was trapped lbw by New Zealand's South Africa-born fast bowler Neil Wagner and his review failed to overturn the umpire's decision.

De Kock suffered ligament damage to his right index finger during the second test at Wellington, in which he scored 91 as South Africa won by eight wickets. He played Sunday in almost constant pain but said this was no impediment to his batting.

Rabada scored 34 from 31 balls and was the last man out, but his contribution swelled South Africa's total after it was 249-8. New Zealand reduced the lead to 247 by stumps.

Latham showed improved determination in batting through the last 25.3 overs of the day before the umpires called stumps due to bad light. He avoided the shots outside off stump which have been his downfall in the series, his greater confidence bringing eight boundaries.

Latham took three catches in the South Africa innings and was involved in the most memorable incident of the day, a short-leg catch to dismiss du Plessis for 53 which was one of the most remarkable taken in a test in New Zealand.

Showing astonishing anticipation, he appeared to sense that du Plessis would play a lap sweep to the third ball bowled in the match by spinner Mitchell Santner.

Before the ball had even pitched, Latham set off on a dash behind square, and when du Plessis went through with the shot, meeting the ball with the full face of the bat, he was shocked to see Latham, still dashing to his right, extend his right arm and pluck the ball out of the air.

Latham had already taken a catch at second slip from the bowling of Matt Henry on the first day to remove Theunis de Bruyn. He combined with Henry again Sunday to catch Vernon Philander (11) at second slip, leaving South Africa 219-7. Philander became the sixth South African to acheive the 1,000 run, 100 wicket double in tests.

Henry, playing for the first time in the series in the absence of injured fast bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult, took 4-93. Wagner took 3-104 and Colin de Grandhomme 2-62 as the New Zealand seamers toiled hard on a slow pitch.

''Obviously it was a tough day today and we had to fight really hard,'' Wagner said. ''We're pretty happy with where we're at and the two openers really put the seal on it by seeing the day through.

''I thought as we expected from the South African team they batted pretty well at the end but I wouldn't say it got away from us. Our bowlers stuck at their plans and grafted really hard.''

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