New Zealand opening pair, Jeet Raval and Tom Latham, put on the best opening stand of the series for the Kiwis as they moved to 67/0 at stumps on Day 2, after Quinton de Kock's 90 had taken South Africa to 314.
Resuming from their overnight score, du Plessis struck a half-century while Bavuma hung around for a little bit before he gave away yet another useful start. de Kock, however, showed little signs of injury as he appeared positive in a brilliant 90 that took South Africa to 314.
Latham, for once, looked solid and Jeet Raval played with confidence as the pitch eased out late in the day. Keshav Maharaj bowled some deliveries that fizzed off the surface to suggest that spin might play a huge role as the game goes on.
Brief Scores: South Africa 314/10 (de Kock 90, du Plessis 53, Henry 4/93); New Zealand 67/0 (Latham 42)
Here are the talking points from the second day's play at Hamilton.
#5 Latham catches two stunners
Tom Latham has been woefully out of form, but the New Zealand team management seem to have so much faith in the opening batsmen that he has been persisted with despite pretty mediocre returns.
His confidence has taken a beating and a couple of missed catching chances in the first two Tests added to his problems. However, in Hamilton, on day 2, he redeemed some of his confidence with two spectacular takes, the first of which was a well anticipated and completed catch.
Du Plessis tried to paddle sweep Santner and Latham at short leg moved quickly to leg slip position when he saw the batsman attempting a stroke and held onto a stunning right-handed catch. He then pounced an equally good one at second slip to send back Philander.
These catches should have given him some confidence and the Black Caps will be hoping that he clicks with the bat too.
#4 Bavuma's stop-start innings'
Temba Bavuma has more often than not clicked for South Africa at a crisis time, but at other times, he has shown a tendency to play casually after getting a start resulting in his dismissal. The South African played brilliantly in the second Test at a crucial time to take Proteas to a win.
However, this time, with ample time for him to concentrate and build on an innings, he lost his wicket to a poor stroke off Matt Henry. Bavuma tried to hook a short ball outside off-stump only to edge the ball to first slip, who eventually took it without much fuss.
Bavuma had looked settled and good in his 29 from 49 balls but threw away his wicket like he has done so many times in the past. The middle-order batsman needs to buckle down and cement a spot in the side which can come only from big knocks rather than the meagre starts he has been getting.
#3 South Africa's batting order conundrum may not be really confusing
South Africa have a concern in their top order with Stephen Cook's poor returns forcing the management to try Theunis de Bruyn as an opener. The Knights batsman lasted just three balls in an unfamiliar position, further compounding the Proteas’ problem.
But the solution may be there for all to see. Bavuma opened in one innings in India and looked pretty good. Batting at six, he more often than not plays the second new ball so he may not be the solution to South Africa’s opening position woes. He even opened in his debut ODI against Ireland and made a hundred.
The Proteas think tank could very well move Bavuma to the top and push de Bruyn to No. 4 with Duminy sliding back down to No. 6. Although Duminy's recent returns at 4 are promising, he hasn't done it on a consistent basis to warrant a permanent slot there.
#2 de Kock sizzles but falls in the 90s yet again
Quinton de Kock once again proved why he is one of the best wicket-keeper batsmen going around in world cricket by smashing a valuable 90 after walking in at No. 7. The dynamic batsman was into his groove pretty early, taking on the seam bowlers in a positive manner.
He slog swept Jeetan Patel, his nemesis in the ODIs, onto the mid-wicket stands and then continued to pull and drive Wagner and co. He fought with the tail yet again to pull South Africa out of a hole before falling agonisingly short of a deserved hundred.
de Kock has three hundreds and eight fifties in his career thus far, a sign that he hasn't had a good conversion rate. This may seem surprising for someone who has the best conversion rate in the world in ODIs but he is an opener in that format. Battling with the tail, he hasn't quite managed to match that feat but has been sensational.
He has five scores above 80 in his half-centuries, including two 90s in this series. The keeper would surely be looking to pile up on that hundreds list.
#1 Black Caps openers blunt new ball
South Africa's 314 looked huge on a green wicket under overcast skies. But the Kiwi openers were upto the task and negotiated the trio of Proteas' seamers with maturity and composure. Latham, regaining some of his old touch, looked solid while Jeet Raval was pretty impressive.
Philander and Morne Morkel, opening the bowling, hardly found the seam and swing that Henry and de Grandhomme had on day 1. Even Rabada, a master in such tracks, bowled quite a few good length balls and half-trackers.
Raval and Latham looked splendid as they caressed the bowlers without trying to take any unnecessary risk. The latter remained unbeaten on 42 while Raval tugged along on 25 as stumps was called with New Zealand on 67/0.