Pace bowler Will O’Rourke claimed a wicket on debut as South Africa were reduced to 64-3 at lunch on Tuesday in the second and final Test against New Zealand.
Zubayr Hamza was on five off 48 balls while David Bedingham was yet to score for the understrength tourists, who chose to bat on a green-tinged Seddon Park pitch in Hamilton.
The Black Caps need a win or draw to clinch a first series victory over South Africa, having failed in 17 previous series dating back to 1931.
The hosts made the ideal start when makeshift opener Clyde Fortuin was dismissed for nought first ball in the second over.
Wicketkeeper Fortuin, promoted up the order, slashed at Matt Henry’s opening delivery and was caught superbly by a diving Glenn Phillips at gully.
Captain Neil Brand fell just before the drinks break for 25, trapped leg before by the lively O’Rourke, one of three changes to the New Zealand side who won the first Test in Mount Maunganui by 281 runs.
Raynard van Tonder was out for 32 in the over before lunch, caught at gully after failing to get on top of Neil Wagner’s short delivery.
Most of South Africa’s first-choice Test players have remained at home to compete in a domestic Twenty20 competition.
The Proteas made two changes to the side that lost the first Test containing six previously uncapped players.
Leg-spinning all-rounder Shaun von Berg was handed a debut at the age of 37 while off-spinner Dane Piedt was recalled for his 10th Test in place of opener Edward Moore and seamer Duanne Olivier.
For New Zealand, 22-year-old O’Rourke replaced Kyle Jamieson, who had back pain following the first Test.
Veteran seamer Wagner was recalled in place of spinner Mitchell Santner while Will Young replaced batsman Daryl Mitchell, who was ruled out with a foot injury.