Steyn, Philander trigger dramatic slide
South Africa 27 for 2 (Smith 13, Martin 18-2) trail New Zealand 185 (McCullum 61, Philander 4-70, Steyn 3-49) by 158 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A catastrophic collapse - that surrendered five wickets with score stuck on 133 - swung the match emphatically in favour of South Africa, as they dismissed New Zealand for 185 on a rain-shortened day one in Hamilton. But the hosts also struck with ball, dismissing Graeme Smith and nightwatchman Dale Steyn before stumps, to leave South Africa at 27 for 2. The rain delay, which came early in the second session, allowed only 72.2 overs to be bowled in the day.
New Zealand's capitulation came after an 89-run stand between Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, during which the hosts progressed steadily on a pitch that offered little to seam bowlers. Dale Steyn led the mid-innings assault, ambushing McCullum with a short ball and a deep square leg, before taking the shoulder of Kane Williamson's bat with another sharp bouncer in the next over. Vernon Philander then charged through to flatten the middle order, felling Taylor, Daniel Vettori and Doug Bracewell in seven balls.
McCullum had brought up his half-century with a six over vacant square leg, but did not shelve the stroke when Graeme Smith appointed a fielder in the deep, with South Africa having persisted with the short length for much of the innings. Having chided himself for attempting to pull a short Steyn delivery in the previous over, McCullum attempted the stroke again - this time to one that had risen well over his head, taking the top edge. If he was disappointed at once again having squandered a start, his mood can't have been improved by the clatter of wickets that followed.
Taylor drove at one that was too short for the stroke, giving Graeme Smith a simple catch at second slip. In the first innings of the first Test, too, he'd departed soon after McCullum, after the pair had got themselves in. Williamson, Vettori and Bracewell then strolled in and were all on their way out again, without having scored a run - Williamson was caught at slip, Vettori was bowled by one that nipped back and Bracewell edged behind. After having been a healthy 133 for 2 in the 49th over, New Zealand had plunged to an appalling 133 for 7 in the 52nd.
Mark Gillespie and Kruger van Wyk played their shots following the slide, pushing their side quickly towards 200, but the pair could not maintain the resistance for long. Morne Morkel trapped van Wyk in front of the stumps, before Imran Tahir had Gillespie caught brilliantly by Alviro Petersen at midwicket. When Brent Arnel perished in Tahir's following over, New Zealand had gifted South Africa a mountain of momentum and the chance to bat on a quickly flattening pitch.
The pull stroke had been productive for McCullum before his demise, as South Africa seemed intent to attack via the short ball once the movement they'd anticipated at the toss failed to materialise past the first hour. He had been floored by Steyn earlier in the day, but held firm against the bounce thereafter - he blunted the bounce off the back foot when it rose to his chest, and picked up singles through a sparse on-side field when the ball was pitched slightly fuller.
Taylor favoured the cut meanwhile, climbing over the ball to hit it square, while also scoring straight when the change-up was delivered. Two commanding drives off Philander in the first over of a rain-curtailed second session betrayed the friendliness of the surface, as well as Taylor's own good form, as he and McCullum rebuilt steadily following the loss of the openers. The pair resumed in a similar vein following the weather interruption, and were rarely flustered by South Africa in the hour after the break, but both then fell in quick succession to leave the hosts tottering. South Africa then pounced to expose a long New Zealand tail.
Kruger van Wyk had to wait until his second match to bag his first dismissal, but when the chance came, his reactions were spectacular. Wrong footed by Smith who went for a booming cover drive to a wide Chris Martin delivery, van Wyk changed direction and dived low to his right to snaffle the inside edge, centimetres from the turf. van Wyk and Martin combined again to dismiss Steyn, and though South Africa's middle order will relish the prospect of batting on the flat surface on day two, the double-strike will keep New Zealand in the match - if only just.