Dunedin - Dean Elgar struck one of the finest centuries for his country to help the Proteas fight back from early trouble to end day one of the first Test against New Zealand with honours even at the University Oval in Dunedin on Wednesday.
The left-hander showed nerves of steel as he batted through the day to end unbeaten on 128 (262 balls, 22 fours) - South Africa reaching stumps on 229/4.
Elgar’s seventh career century was his second-longest in terms of balls, with the highest being the 316 deliveries he faced for 127 against Australia in Perth last year.
It also came on the back of the tourists being in a huge hole at the start after they slipped to 22/3 in the first 19 overs against a disciplined Black Caps attack.
Faf du Plessis (52 off 118 balls, 7 fours) and Temba Bavuma (37 not out) were also integral to the recovery.
The visiting captain won the toss at the start and took the rare option to bat first, the first time such a decision had been made in 22 Test matches in New Zealand - the last being in a clash between the hosts and Pakistan in Wellington during 2011.
But it looked a questionable call as Stephen Cook (3), Hashim Amla (1) and JP Duminy (1) were all dismissed early, the latter pair removed within the space of five Neil Wagner (2/59) deliveries.
Elgar, who was dropped by wicketkeeper BJ Watling on 36, and Du Plessis then dug in as they put on 126 for the fourth wicket to give the innings a significant boost.
After the skipper fell to Jimmy Neesham (1/29), Bavuma proved the perfect foil with a typically determined 101-ball knock that enabled a further 81 to be added to the total with the visitors ending the day in the ascendancy.