Senior bowler Chris Martin felt physically sick at the Black Caps day-one showing, but said his New Zealand team-mates deserved to feel a tinge of pride as they eyeballed the South Africans today.
After being dismissed for 45 in their first innings, New Zealand were 169-4 at stumps on the second day of the first test at Newlands, still in deep trouble and trailing the hosts by 133.
Martin and Trent Boult took three wickets apiece as South Africa declared their first innings at 347-8.
"Compared to yesterday it was immense and the way we turned up with the ball was a lot better," Martin said.
"We were more consistent and dried the runs up which brought us five wickets. That kind of set the tone for the way the batters have gone out there and put up a much sterner fight.".
Martin said he felt ill after New Zealand's performance on day one but there was little screaming or yelling in the dressing room.
"Harsh words probably wouldn't have helped," he said.
"They were quite reasoned and quite straightforward and a lot of guys just have to put it to the side and deal with it another time.
"The best way to deal with it was shown by the way they applied themselves today and the way they absorbed the pressure and at times scored freely."
Captain Brendon McCullum scored 51 in 146 minutes while Dean Brownlie top-scored and will resume 69 not out on day three.
Earlier, New Zealand's bowlers took 5-92 after the hosts resumed on 252-3.
"We were slow to start and against very good sides that puts you well behind the game," Martin said.
"We basically started our test match today which is not a good way to go about it.
"Frustration isn't really the word but overall the way we've come back shows the pride and determination in the outfit even though we're quite a young side, bar me.
"They definitely turned up today and stuck their chests out a little bit more and got into the game."
Martin said the pitch still offered plenty of interest for the pacemen with its variable bounce, which doesn't auger well for New Zealand's chances of making South Africa bat again, or even extending the test into a fourth day.
Meanwhile, South African century-maker Alviro Petersen was cursing the fact his team didn't dispatch the tourists inside two days, due to a sloppy hour after the tea break.
South Africa dropped three catches in 12 balls, two off Brownlie and one off McCullum, as the pair put on a rapid 89 off 81 balls for the third wicket.
"We just played terrible cricket," Petersen said.
"The bowling wasn't up to scratch, the catching wasn't up to scratch and for that hour or so it wasn't the standard we set ourselves."
Petersen top-scored with 106 and said it didn't matter whether they recorded an innings victory or not. The world No 1 side look to roll to another test win sometime tonight or early tomorrow (NZT).
"Victory is top priority for us," he said.
"It doesn't matter if it's by 10 wickets, nine wickets or an innings. We just play this game to win."
- Fairfax Media
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