New Zealand seamers script opening victory
New Zealanders 318 (Vettori 99) and 145 (Cumming 67, Kent 4-45) beat SA Invitational XI 156 (Amla 67, Oram 4-17) and 91 (Tsolekile 30, Bond 3-26) by 216 runs
New Zealand romped to a 216-run win over a South African Invitational XI on the third day at Bloemfontein, with another impressive performance from their bowlers who dismissed the hosts for 91. But on a day which saw 20 wickets fall for 236 runs, their top-order has had little time out in the middle ahead of the first Test on November 8.
Impressive though New Zealand bowled, they too suffered an ignominious batting collapse in their second innings. Ethy Mbhalati (3 for 53) and Lonwabo Tsotsobe tore into New Zealand's top-order to leave them wobbling on 81 for 5. While wickets tumbled around him, Craig Cumming - who made 12 in the first innings - remained firm and stroked 14 fours in a stabilising 67.
The introduction of Jon Kent, however, shifted the momentum with 4 for 45 to dismiss New Zealand for 145. This left the Invitational XI chasing a tough 308; perfectly achievable in theory, but not on a green-top and nor against Shane Bond who had his tail up. Bond removed Morne van Wyk, caught at slip, before dismissing Ahmed Amla, and again he bowled well in tandem with Jacob Oram, who picked up 2 for 14 from six overs. The hosts crashed to 68 for 6, and although they found temporary respite in Thami Tsolekile's 30, it was too little, too late.
Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, picked up the final two wickets. His batsmen have one final warm-up game in which to gain some form, against South Africa A in Potchefstroom starting Thursday.
Vettori hoped a better pitch would be used in the next tour game. "We came here to win a game, but the conditions weren't what we expected. It was one of the worst pitches I've played on," Vettori told News24.com. "For us to get runs in the first innings was pleasing, but it was continually hard for the batsmen from both teams to get runs because the ball moved around late into day three. So it wasn't the ideal workout for us, but we're happy to get some runs and overs under our belt.
"The most important thing about the match was getting out there and playing some cricket," he said. "It's a long time since the guys bowled more than ten overs, so that was very important.
"We're hoping for a flatter wicket [in Potchefstroom] so we can get a really good run out," he said. "I know the bowlers want to bowl 20, 30 overs and get that under their belts, and the same for the batsmen - they want to build long partnerships and trust the bounce and movement on the wicket, because I think that's what we're going to get in the Test matches. We're going to get good wickets there that the batsmen can dominate on, and they need that before they head into the Tests."