Lunch South Africa 63 for 3 (Elgar 36, du Plessis 18*) v New Zealand
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Neil Wagner struck twice in an over © AFP
It was an opening session which confounded expectation in Dunedin. New Zealand left out their vice-captain (a bowler with 201 Test wickets), played two spinners, had one of them on in the sixth over – after a captain had decided to bat first in New Zealand for the first time in 23 Tests – and then had South Africa tottering on 63 for 3 at lunch.
A few things did go to script, however, with New Zealand’s wickets going to Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, the latter taking two in five balls on his home ground at the start of his second spell, while Dean Elgar showed characteristic grit as he and captain Faf du Plessis went about lifting South Africa from a precarious 22 for 3.
The first Test surface for a new University Oval groundsman presented uncertainty for both sides, although South Africa had been happy to name their XI yesterday. But it was not until du Plessis glimpsed New Zealand’s XI – which had Jeetan Patel instead of Tim Southee – that he knew he would bat if he won the toss. As it had for AB de Villiers throughout the one-day series, the coin fell in South Africa’s favour and for the first time since Daniel Vettori said “we’ll bat” against Pakistan at Wellington in 2011 a captain gave his batsmen first use.
For the first time in a home Test, New Zealand started with two left-armers – Wagner opening the bowling for just the second time in his career – but it was only five overs until Williamson turned to spin. Patel’s 12-over spell would play a vital role in the morning session, keeping South Africa almost scoreless for long periods of time – he had only conceded eight runs in ten overs when he began to slightly lose his line – allowing Boult to attack with swing and later Wagner to pray on the batsman’s jitters.
Boult, in his 50th Test, struck first when Stephen Cook’s defensive mindset led to him padding up to a ball which would have taken the top of the stumps. After the first hour South Africa were 16 for 1 off 16 overs and things did not get any easier.
Following a nine-over opening burst from Boult – his workload, as one of two specialist quicks, could become an issue – he was replaced by Wagner and the impact was immediate. A full delivery swung in and defeated Amla, who had made 1 off his previous 27 deliveries, when his feet were stuck in the crease.
Five balls later it was Wagner 101 when a superbly directed bouncer glanced JP Duminy’s glove and looped to first slip. Duminy thought it may have been straight off his helmet and after consulting with Elgar opted to review, but it was a clear glove and surprising that Duminy hadn’t felt it.
At 22 for 3 the morning could have gone awfully for South Africa, but they made it through to lunch without further damage. Elgar’s hard work started to pay off as boundaries slowly came his way and du Plessis took the same number of runs off two deliveries from Patel (eight) than his first ten overs had conceded.
New Zealand 1 Tom Latham, 2 Jeet Raval, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Jimmy Neesham, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Neil Wagner, 10 Jeetan Patel, 11 Trent Boult
South Africa 1 Stephen Cook, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Temba Bavuma, 7 Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Kagiso Rabada
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo