The SA team reached 220/6 when stumps were drawn.
Though they still had a lot of work to do when they returned to the field in the early hours of Wednesday morning (SA time), the Proteas were relieved to have put up more of a fight on the opening day of the second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton on Tuesday.
Trailing 1-0 in the two-match series after being handed a crushing defeat in the first match last week, the inexperienced SA team dug deep to keep themselves afloat in the early stages of the second fixture, led by a defiant knock from Ruan de Swardt.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, most of the touring team’s top order made starts, but they failed to convert as they reached 150/6 shortly after the tea break.
De Swardt stuck his heels in at the crease, however, hitting his maiden half-century in his second Test.
The 26-year-old all-rounder shared an unbroken 70-run stand for the seventh wicket with 37-year-old debutant Shaun von Berg, as the duo guided their team to 220/6 at stumps, with De Swardt on 55 not out and Von Berg unbeaten on 34.
Rachin Ravindra was the best of the Black Caps bowlers, taking 3/33 after ripping through the Proteas’ middle order.
“I thought the fightback from our batters was unbelievable,” De Swardt said after the close of play.
“I knew it was going to be quite hard graft out there and I thought the New Zealanders bowled pretty well. But for me it was just about getting stuck into them, having that mental toughness and just keep going. It was nice to put the team in a good position.”
David Bedingham, who hit 39 runs, was equally delighted with the all-round effort as the Proteas tried to avoid a historic Test series defeat to the Black Caps.
“It was nice to see some fight. The coach (Shukri Conrad) asked for that coming into this Test and I’m glad we showed lots of fight, especially towards the end of the day,” Bedingham said.