Stiaan van Zyl completed an express century on debut and Hashim Amla made 208 as South Africa declared on 552 for five on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Thursday.
A thrilling day’s action was then cut short, however, as rain washed out the entire final session.
Van Zyl needed just 129 balls to reach three figures and stroked 15 fours, most of them in elegant fashion through the off side, off both front and back foot, and becomes the fifth batsman to score a hundred on Test debut for South Africa.
The others were Andrew Hudson (Bridgetown, 1992), Jacques Rudolph (Chittagong, 2002), Alviro Petersen (Kolkata, 2010) and Faf du Plessis (Adelaide, 2012), and Van Zyl is the first to achieve the feat on home soil.
Van Zyl was on 101 not out when Amla declared, and Quinton de Kock had just hit left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn for successives sixes to go to 18 not out.
Meanwhile Amla went methodically to his double century as if it were a daily routine, after six-and-a-half hours and 359 balls at the crease, once again showing he has remarkable stores of concentration and patience.
Amla had already made the highest Test score at Centurion, surpassing Jacques Kallis’s memorable 201 not out against India in 2010/11, when he was dismissed, searching quick runs before the declaration and holing out at long-on off Benn.
Kemar Roach and Benn each took two wickets for the West Indies, but they paid heavy prices for limited success, Roach limping off midway through the last session on the first day with an ankle injury and Benn conceding 148 runs in 46 overs.
The West Indies were at least given a valid excuse for delaying their reply against the fearsome South African pace quartet as rain began to fall and an early tea was taken, but the rain was heavy enough to prevent any further play.
Captain Amla was still at the crease with a superb 178 not out as he took South Africa to a commanding 449 for four at lunch.
Amla, who began the day on 133 off 242 balls, applied himself diligently on the second morning, adding 45 runs off 88 deliveries to ensure South Africa did not waste a rousing first day to the Test in which he and AB de Villiers added an unbroken 283 for the fourth wicket to take them to 340 for three at stumps.
The pair took their partnership to 308, the highest for any wicket at Centurion in 19 Tests, before De Villiers was dismissed in the 100th over, the ninth of the day.
De Villiers was once again in inspired form as he cruised to 152 in five hours and 18 minutes, facing 235 balls and stroking 16 fours and two sixes. But totally against the run of play, he then edged an expansive lofted drive at Benn, who obtained a smidgen of turn, and the ball skewed comfortably into the hands of cover-point.
Debutant Van Zyl then came in and was in trouble early on, almost turning his first ball from Benn into the hands of leg-gully, playing and missing outside off stump against the quicks and even being dropped by Kraigg Braithwaite at leg-gully off Benn when he had just two.
But the left-hander then settled and played some impressive strokes through the off-side, reaching a half-century on debut in good time, off 74 balls with eight fours.