Trent Boult led an impressive New Zealand bowling effort as South Africa struggled on the first day of the first Test against South Africa at Kingsmead yesterday.
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.
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.”
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