Wednesday, 2 January 2013

South Africa in charge after New Zealand crash

South Africa were firmly in control after New Zealand crashed to 45 all out on the first morning of the first Test at Newlands on Wednesday.

South Africa needed only 12 overs to take a first innings lead after a sensational performance by their bowlers, led by Vernon Philander, who took the first five wickets in the space of 20 balls. South Africa were 119 for two at tea.

Philander had figures of five for seven from six overs as New Zealand failed to cope with good fast bowling on a well-grassed pitch after winning the toss. Morne Morkel took three for 14 and Dale Steyn two for 18.

Steyn captured his 300th Test wicket when he bowled Bracewell but his achievement was overshadowed by a sensational performance by Philander, who claimed his eighth five-wicket haul in his 13th Test match.

Although the pitch gave some help to the fast bowlers, South Africa's free-scoring reply showed there were no devils in the surface.

Captain Graeme Smith was leg before wicket to Doug Bracewell for one to become the eleventh man dismissed before lunch, which was taken at three for one but Hashim Amla and Alviro Petersen shared a second wicket stand of 107.

Amla hurried to a half-century off 55 balls before he walked across his stumps and was leg before wicket to James Franklin for 66, while Petersen was unbeaten on 45.

New Zealand, fielding a team hit by injuries and controversy, contributed to their collapse with uncertain foot movement against Philander, who stuck to his tried and tested method of bowling in a tight channel at a lively pace, able to make the ball deviate in either direction.

New Zealand's total was the third lowest in their history and the joint 12th lowest in Test cricket.

It was also the lowest total at Newlands in more than a century, two runs worse than the 47 all out by Australia at the start of last season. South Africa were dismissed for 35 and 43 in two matches against England in 1898/99 and 1888/89 in their early forays into Test cricket.

The lowest total by New Zealand - and the world record low - was 26 against England in 1954/55. They were all for 42 against Australia in Wellington in 1945/46.

Brendon McCullum, New Zealand's new captain, backed up his pre-match commitment to meet the challenge of South Africa's fast bowlers head on if he won the toss. With Peter Fulton adding to an injury list which also included Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee, McCullum opened the batting with Martin Guptill.

Smith indicated that he would also have batted if he had won the toss but noted that there was some moisture in the pitch and that there might be some early life for the fast bowlers.

In the circumstances it was crucial that New Zealand made a solid start through McCullum, Guptill and Kane Williamson, their top three batsmen, with a largely unproven line-up to follow.

Instead, the tourists were quickly in trouble when Guptill sparred at a lifting delivery from Philander to be caught behind off the last ball of the second over. McCullum had his middle stump knocked by a ball which snaked in off the pitch in Philander's third over.

Then Dean Brownlie lasted only three balls before edging Philander to Smith at first slip. At that stage the bowler had taken three wickets without conceding a run.

Williamson showed some defiance as he made 13 before he was Philander's fourth victim, trapped leg before wicket. Given out by umpire Rod Tucker, Williamson asked for a television review but replays showed the ball clipping the top of his bails.

Williamson was out to the last ball of Philander's fourth over and the bowler was on a hat-trick when he had BJ Watling caught behind off the first ball of his fifth over.

Franklin survived the hat-trick delivery but was caught at first slip by Smith in the next over, bowled by Morkel.

Morkel and Steyn shared the remaining wickets. (AFP)

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