South Africa was in control against test cricket's strugglers in Port Elizabeth despite a disordered start to its home season that complicated the return to action of De Villiers after a two-year break from tests.
De Villiers leads South Africa after regular skipper Faf du Plessis was ruled out with illness. De Kock was unable to take the field after de Villiers declared South Africa's innings on 309 for nine, leaving the captain to walk out in de Kock's keeping gear.
"Faf has been making steady progress from back and shoulder injuries and until last week was on track to make a comeback in this match", said team manager Mohammed Moosajee.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's preparations for this one-off Test didn't go quite to plan after they suffered a five-wicket defeat on the third and final day of their day-night match against a South African Invitation team that included only four players with franchise experience. Given that workload has been an issue throughout de Villiers's career, and played a part in his decision to stay away from the long format since his return from injury in January, there was a high degree of irony involved.
"I'm generally open-minded to that prospect but I think it's (an option) against certain opposition at certain times of the year", Sutherland told Fox Sports News. The ICC chief executive David Richardson had said the trial of four-day Test cricket would run until the 2019 World Cup, although participation wasn't mandatory.
The four-day Test will have several variations from standard Test playing conditions.More news: US Jet Slides Off Taxiway at Boston Airport
The hours of play will last six-and-a-half hours compared to the normal six hours.
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The South Africa-Zimbabwe match will be the eighth day-night Test and the first to be played in South Africa.
The first two sessions of play will be two hours 15 minutes each, instead of two hours, with a 20-minute tea break instead of a lunch break after the first session. As in five-day games, an extra half hour can be added in order to complete the overs.
De Villiers got much more work than he would have expected on his return to the test arena after a hiatus of nearly two years after taking time off from the first class game.