Tom Latham can't buy a run for New Zealand right now, but there's nothing wrong with his hands.

The Canterbury opener, who is in a deep rut of form, pulled off a stunning catch at short square leg to dismiss South African captain Faf du Plessis on the second morning of the final test at Hamilton's Seddon Park.

Du Plessis had reached 53 when New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson called left arm spinner Mitchell Santner to the bowling crease for the first time in the 62nd over.

To his third ball, du Plessis tried to get cute and stretched down low to turn the ball behind square from outside his off stump.

Advertisement

Latham anticipated superbly, moving to his right. The ball flew high and he put out a hand to cling onto the chance.

TV commentator Ian Smith described it as one of the greatest short-leg catches; Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford's mouth was agape.

The New Zealand fielders ran to Latham in jubilation as they celebrated chipping another wicket out, reducing South Africa to 190 for six.

For a second course, Latham then stretched low to his right at second slip to pick up a difficult chance from Vernon Philander, to give seamer Matt Henry his fourth wicket of the innings. That made it 219 for seven.

Catches come in different types, as well as degrees of difficulty. You get fast, reactive chances in the slips, boundary takes and the flat, hard drives to positions such as the covers or mid wicket.

But Latham's snare relied on instincts, anticipation and hand-eye co-ordination.

He's made just 24 runs in three innings in the test series and his ODI form tailed off badly after a century on Boxing Day against Bangladesh in Christchurch. In seven innings he made just 35 runs.

But set that aside for now. This catch was out of the highest class, a candidate for New Zealand's best catch of the summer - and coming in the final match of a long international season.