New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 2nd day March 8, 2012

Honours even after hard-fought day


New Zealand 243 for 9 (McCullum 48, Vettori 46, Taylor 44, Philander 4-50) lead South Africa 238 (Amla 62, Smith 53, Rudolph 52, Martin 4-56) by five runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A gripping second day of Test cricket at the University Oval in Dunedin left precious little separating the teams, with New Zealand five runs ahead of South Africa's 238, with a wicket in hand. New Zealand's top order battled swing bowling of the highest quality before lunch and aggressive short pitched pace after it, but could not definitively wrest the advantage, as South Africa prised wickets at regular intervals.

No New Zealand batsman crossed fifty, though Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori all came close, with 40s to their name. Taylor and McCullum had survived a brutal encounter with Morne Morkel after lunch, but could not apply themselves long enough to consolidate, while Vettori fell to a brilliant low take from Jacques Kallis on his follow through.

Vernon Philander rarely strayed a few inches from off stump in his first spell of the day, and was rewarded with the wicket of Rob Nicol, who had struggled on debut. Philander finished the day with 4 for 50 - another performance that will embellish a growing reputation as one of the most exciting seam-bowling finds in recent memory. Morkel finished with two, having peppered McCullum and Taylor with as hostile a spell they are ever likely to encounter, while Steyn will feel he bowled better than 1 for 71 suggests.

Martin Guptill and McCullum may have thought they'd blunted the worst of South Africa's assault in the hour before lunch, but the interrogation continued well into the afternoon session, as Morkel unleashed a ferocious spell once movement began to dwindle for his team-mates. The slower Dunedin track had hampered Morkel prior to lunch, but a return to the crease with renewed vigour yielded immediate results, as Guptill was late on a defensive stroke, and tested the mettle of New Zealand's most experienced batting pair.

A smattering of welts on Taylor's arms, chest and shoulders will let him know he has been in a fight. He wore several in his first exchange with Morkel - two on the fingers, one on the ribs and two more glancing blows just below the helmet grille. Edges deflected off the body, landed short of the slips or flew just wide. Though New Zealand had done well to lose only one wicket to an artful hour of swing and seam bowling in the first session, they were now examined gruffly with the next weapon in South Africa's armoury.

Though clearly intimidated, Taylor and McCullum refused to be shaken. While Morkel was often unplayable, the runs started to tick at the other end when Philander's impeccable line began to waiver. Movement from earlier in the day had all but disappeared, and the drives down the ground that had grown more profitable became New Zealand's favoured currency.

But as has been the case so many times in their careers McCullum and Taylor's belligerence proved to be their downfall. Having battled through two terrific spells from one of the world's finest attacks, they aggressed too early, and too mindlessly, just as consolidation beckoned. Their 65-run association was broken when McCullum attempted to sweep Imran Tahir hard against the turn, serving up a high top edge, before Taylor chased a wide one and was caught behind. He'd already hit two fours in the over.

Vettori mounted a familiar recovery alongside Kruger van Wyk, working the South Africa attack square of the wicket with so little fuss his team-mates' innings seemed grating by comparison. Sweetly struck boundaries to the cover point fence and the swivel pull shot to the leg side were as productive as ever, pushing Graeme Smith to deploy four men on the fence - the most defensive field across both days of the Test.

Debutant van Wyk meanwhile was steady and organised. South Africa's pacemen towered over him, and Morkel gave him the perfunctory working over - but if van Wyk was intimidated, there were few signs. The back foot defence gave was his favoured reply to the seamers, but he was equally adept against spin - picking Tahir better than most in the order, and even tickling him fine with the occasional paddle sweep.

Vettori was eventually undone by indecision, as he was cruising towards a fifty that would have been New Zealand's first of the innings, when Jacques Kallis dived low on his follow through to snaffle a half-hearted bunt. Doug Bracewell then joined the resistance - showing the kind of batting prowess that has earned him three first class fifties, but hasn't yet been evident at the top level. He put on 41 alongside van Wyk, ensuring first his defence was in order before attempting the more expansive strokes - five of which brought him a boundary, as New Zealand edged towards the first-innings lead.

van Wyk and Tim Southee fell in quick succession to the second new ball, as Philander embellished an already-menacing career average. But Bracewell was good enough to edge his side ahead, before losing his off stump to Steyn.

The first session lacked the drama of the two to follow, but Steyn's new-ball partnership with Philander was unlucky to have only gleaned one reward. In bright sunshine, Steyn found the movement in the air that had eluded New Zealand's bowlers under cloud cover the previous day, after South Africa's tail added 47 to the overnight score before being finished off.

Steyn beat both opener's edge repeatedly and emphatically, with Philander doing the same at the other end - he did it with his pinpoint line and movement off the seam. McCullum and Guptill were forced to call on every sinew of expertise to ensure survival, and they hobbled to lunch, at 40 for 1, only to be bombarded by Morkel when play resumed.

Edited by Nikita Bastian

Andrew Fernando writes for The Pigeon and has a column here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • baxter on March 8, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    great way to start the 3 test series, hard fought battles continued through out the day. Disappointing was the fact that Taylor, Mccullum and Vettori didn't push on to get big scores all falling to silly shots, but in the end we managed to scrap through to a small lead, and this is good because southee and martin will step up on day 3 and skittle the south africans for around 250 leaving new zealand poised for victory. Get up New Zealand you deserve a win.

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    AN ATTRITION AL AND ABSORBING DAY.SA are gaining the ascendancy slowly and provided the top five (aka big five) get the runs NZ are going to battle on a wearing pitch.Still think the ground is not good enough for a test match.

  • Al on March 8, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    ok! Both teams have fluffed their it is a one test match innings. Proteas will struggle for a quick innings of runs andeither soak up two days batting leaving a max of 300 for NZ or else all NZ bowlers will step up and improve on their first effort leaving 200 to win....NZ batters have the home advantage and will have learnt valuable lessons from the first Innings. Bat Nicol at #4 and move up Mc Millian to opener and Williamson to 3....then it is 1-0 NZ

  • Grant on March 8, 2012, 18:37 GMT

    We know that SA can click into a few higher gears, but NZ has surely been stretched to their limit. It's like a deja vu of the limited overs games where NZ performed well on the first day, were quick out of the blocks but were overtaken soon afterwards then left as a speck in the rear view mirror. That's unless the SA engine stalls.

  • Lee on March 8, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    Kiwi's gone quiet now. SA to post 300+ and Kiwi's all out under 200 to make it 1-0 in the series.

  • Matthew on March 8, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    I thought New Zealand's score was a little under-par to be honest. I was disappointed with the dismissals of McCullum and Taylor. Ok they had fought back well after Nicol and Guptill had been dismissed, raining in their natural game to provide the NZ middle order with some stability against good bowling, but they then wasted all that hard work going after balls that didn't need to be hit. It's also a make or break series for players like Guptill and Williamson, players who have undoubted talent but haven't done well against top quality bowling. I expect SA to bat better this time around and I think NZ will be in for a tough three days.

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    Philander has outperformed Steyn and Morkel in five consecutive matches. He is phenomenal. Steyn might have had a rare bad day but he will come back with a bang in the second innings..

  • Sifiso on March 8, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    I have to say it has been a great test match so far more so on the NZ point of view. They have tried to compete at least till this far. They know SA have not played their best test cricket yet. I however think they have failed to capitalize on that, especially the Taylor/McCullum partnership. It was their best chance of wrestling something out of this match or at least to try and get 50 or 60 more runs for SA to chase before they set a competitive 2nd innings target. They will look back on it and realise they certainly missed a decent opportunity there. Because come day three they should get a great batting lesson from Kallis and company. Go Proteas!

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    where are the NZ supporters who where making noise after just 1 day of cricket. or was the taste of Philander to bitter to swallow. i will check the comments again tomorrow as we take more control

  • Kendal on March 8, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Big Vern is exactly the type of bowler that Pollock and McGrath were towards the end of their careers - just medium to medium fast, but deadly accurate and doing enough off the seam to cause the batsmen problems. Therefore I don't think his success so far is totally dependent on bowling in home conditions, I think he's going to do well anywhere...the sub-continent will be his greatest test though...

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