Aiden Markram helped South Africa race to a strong start before the West Indies fought back on the first day of the second Test in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie, however, picked up three wickets as South Africa closed on 311 for seven, having slipped from their formidable teatime position of 247 for two.
Aiden Markram (96) and Tony de Zorzi (85) were mainly responsible for South Africa’s healthy position before the hosts struggled after the second interval.
Five wickets fell while only 63 runs were added in 27.2 overs before the close.
The underwhelming performance left captain Kraigg Brathwaite on Tuesday urging his batting group to show “clarity” in their approach.
“I think it shows we aren’t far off. Obviously South Africa is a tough team at home as normal, and it goes to show that with a little more application especially for the batters – myself included – we could do well here in these conditions,” Brathwaite said of the experience in the opening Test.
“It gave us that belief that we can do it and we’ve just got to keep believing, and it doesn’t matter which team we play in the world, we’ve always got to believe. We had a lot of positives in the first Test and we have to just keep improving.”
“Test cricket is all mental and it’s just to figure out how you want to score runs against each bowler. We got some dismissals [in the first Test] where balls were wide so it’s important to have the clarity to know which balls you want to play and which balls you want to leave, and that’s what batting is. It’s batting for long periods against world class bowling and knowing how you want to score [runs]. I think mentally we’ve got to be in that right place to firstly believe we can do it – believe we can bat and score runs. And then it’s to do it. We’ve got to do it. It’s as simple as that,” he added.
Brathwaite said even without Nortje, South Africa’s attack remained potent and called on his batsmen to back their plans.
“I wouldn’t say it (Nortje’s absence) affects us. Obviously we know he’s a world class bowler who has some pace and I think whoever comes in for them … those guys are obviously good bowlers.
“We would’ve seen some footage, a few of the guys have played against them already and as I said, it’s important we know how we want to go about it. We [should] know how we want to score our runs, we [should] know how we want to get singles, rotate the strike, be aggressive to which bowler – it’s important we take these plans into the game,” Brathwaite said.
“Obviously a game, it involves a lot of pressure [because] you’re playing Test cricket, and it’s important to do it when you’re under pressure. It’s never easy but we can do it and I’m backing the guys 100 percent.”