Proteas batsman, Faf du Plessis, is determined to make the number three batting position his own. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Harare – Faf du Plessis fell agonisingly short of a century but South Africa moved into the lead on the third morning of the one-off Test against Zimbabwe as they reached lunch on 278 for five.

Du Plessis was out for 98 shortly before the lunch interval when he turned off spinner John Nyumbu to leg gully, giving Nyumbu his third wicket in his debut innings.

However with Quinton de Kock easing to 75 not out, the Proteas moved past Zimbabwe's first innings total of 256 and gave themselves an opportunity to build a major lead.

Although Du Plessis and De Kock took their time to adapt to the pace of the pitch early on, scoring 11 runs in the first eight overs of the day, they gradually took the attack to the Zimbabwean bowlers in a 119-run partnership.

The hosts responded to that pressure by offering up some loose deliveries, allowing South Africa a relatively profitable 77 runs from the session.

That compared favourably to their progress on Sunday, when they scored 201 for four in 84 overs.

JP Duminy was yet to get off the mark after replacing Du Plessis, while Nyumbu had figures of 3 for 105. – Sapa-AFP