Neil Wagner, Trent Boult excel as New Zealand dominate South Africa on Day 1
Trent Boult led an impressive New Zealand bowling effort, with Neil Wagner joining the destruction later, as South Africa struggled on the first day of the first Test against South Africa.
Durban: Trent Boult led an impressive New Zealand bowling effort, with Neil Wagner joining the destruction later, as South Africa struggled on the first day of the first Test against South Africa at Kingsmead on Friday.
South Africa made 236 for eight before bad light brought an end to an overcast day played under floodlights almost from the start.
"We're happy with where we are," said left-arm pace bowler Neil Wagner, who finished with three for 47. He was also happy that stand-in South African captain Faf du Plessis decided to bat in what were always likely to be challenging conditions.
"We didn't really know what to expect but we were happy to bowl first with a bit of humidity and overcast conditions," he added.
Boult was superb in an opening spell of one for eight in eight overs.
"He was outstanding," said Wagner. "He set the day up for us. With the ball you always have to start well and it looked like he had great rhythm. He's a world-class swing bowler."
Just when it seemed South African openers Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar had weathered the early storm from Boult and Tim Southee, Boult struck with the last ball of his seventh over when he had Cook caught behind for 20 after an opening stand of 33.
Doug Bracewell had Elgar caught at second slip and JP Duminy fell into a trap when he top-edged a short ball from Wagner to fine leg.
Boult came back after lunch and made another crucial breakthrough when he had top-scorer Hashim Amla caught behind for 53.
- Swinging both ways -
The ball which dismissed Cook moved away slightly from the right-hander, while Amla was caught off an inside edge from a ball which swung in. Boult finished the day with two for 42.
"It's not a great position to be in," Amla admitted.
"Quite a few of us got in but didn't manage to capitalise. Credit to New Zealand, they bowled really well, especially in the first session.
"Stephen and Dean did an exceptional job to see that off but unfortunately we weren't able to take advantage."
After much speculation about how the pitch would play in an unusual time of the year for Test cricket in South Africa, Amla said: "It played pretty much as a standard Kingsmead wicket.
"Over the years Kingsmead has been one of the more difficult grounds to score big runs, on so one ball may do something and have your number on it. But one or two of us got out in ways that could have been avoided."
One of those who played an injudicious stroke was wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, who raced to 33 off 33 balls before being caught at wide mid-off trying to hit a third successive boundary off left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner.
"Quinny is an aggressive batsman by nature and he plays best that way," said Amla.
"Had he not got out we might have been in a very good position. Sometimes you are going to make mistakes. As he becomes more experienced he will work out which is the better option, but as it is he gave us good momentum."
De Kock had helped Temba Bavuma add 48 for the sixth wicket in a partnership which threatened to break New Zealand's hold on the game. Bavuma made 46, with some crisp off-side drives, but two balls after de Kock's dismissal he too fell to Santner, missing a sweep to be leg-before-wicket.
While de Kock and Bavuma had reason to rue their choice of strokes, du Plessis fell to a sensational diving catch by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson off Wagner after making 23 in an 84-ball vigil.
"He's such a good fielder," said Wagner. "He's exceptional in that position. He's taken quite a few of those."
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