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March 4, 2005
Records tumbled on arguably the most one-sided first day of a Test in 128 years of international cricket. It was gruesome to watch, but at least the statisticians had something to get excited about.
First to go was Zimbabwe's lowest Test score. Their previous-worst was 63, at Port-of-Spain in March 2000, when they wilted in the face of what seemed to be an easy victory target of just 99 runs. But today was worse: only Stuart Matsikenyeri made double figures, although curiously there was only one duck as Zimbabwe succumbed for 54. Click here for a list of the lowest innings in Tests.
As South Africa toyed with the bowling as if it was the Father's Match at school, another record loomed into view. The biggest lead that a side batting second had established by the end of the first day in any Test was 233, when England ran up 286 for 8 after bowling out Australia for 53 in 75 minutes at Lord's in 1896. That 109-year-old record was soon in tatters - like Zimbabwe's spirits - as the runs cascaded after tea, a session in which South Africa scored 249 in 33 overs.
Jacques Kallis, soon after smacking three successive sixes off Graeme Cremer, hurtled to his half-century in just 24 balls - the fastest-known in terms of balls faced, relegating Ian Botham's slaptastic 26-ball fifty at Delhi in 1981-82 down a place.
There was also the little matter of Makhaya Ntini's 200th Test wicket - he's the third South African (after Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock) to get there, and the 46th from all countries - and Mark Boucher's 300th Test dismissal behind the stumps (only Ian Healy and Rod Marsh have made more). There was even one bright moment for Zimbabwe: Tatenda Taibu scored his 1000th Test run.
Wisden doesn't do records for hurt pride, or the Zimbabweans might have clocked up a few more. But Cremer's figures of 9-0-86-3 were a candidate for Most Unusual in Tests (Asanka Gurusinha runs him close, with a spell of 1.5-0-25-2 in 1986-87), while Tatenda Taibu's persistence with a slip and a gully almost all day would have come in high on the mythical Most Optimistic Field Placings table.