South Africa v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 1st day January 11, 2013

Amla hundred puts South Africa on top


South Africa 325 for 4 (Amla 106*, du Plessis 69*) v New Zealand
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

For significant parts of the opening day in Port Elizabeth, New Zealand pushed South Africa reasonably hard, which is much more than happened last week at Newlands. There were spells of testing bowling, a fair amount of playing and missing and some blows for the batsmen to take. However, the final scoreline, anchored by Hashim Amla's 19th Test hundred, is a story of South Africa dominance on a surface that certainly was not placid.

Whether South Africa's bowlers would have got more out of the pitch in the first session will remain unknown, but Brendon McCullum certainly looked relieved when he did not have to make a decision at the toss when the coin fell Graeme Smith's way. Few expect New Zealand to draw level in the series, but they needed to build on the improvement shown after the horrid start in Cape Town when McCullum won the toss, chose to bat and they were bundled out for 45.

Without putting South Africa on the back foot at any stage they at least ensured it was not one-way traffic. They bowled better before lunch than one wicket suggested, although struggled to build pressure with a steady supply of loose deliveries, and the first hour of the afternoon brought the significant blows of Smith and Jacques Kallis to leave South Africa 137 for 3.

The key moment of the day, though, came a few moments later when Amla, 48, failed to keep a back-cut down against Trent Boult but Kane Williamson could not hold on at gully. During New Zealand's tour of Sri Lanka late last year, Williamson held some stunning catches. This one was tough, but easier than those - and one New Zealand desperately needed to take. From there, Amla's century felt inevitable.

Three balls later he went to his fifty with a square cut, and it was the same shot that took him to a hundred during the final session from 187 balls. It was not Amla at his most flamboyant, as was the case in Australia on occasion, and for that New Zealand's bowlers deserve some credit even if the finishing touch was still often missing with a boundary-ball offered to keep the scoreboard moving. Neither is patience a problem for Amla and he was happy to wait, rather than try to manufacture too much on the first day.

Amla's catch was not the only missed opportunity for New Zealand. Facing the second new ball, Faf du Plessis gloved Boult down the leg side but was given not out. After some deliberation McCullum did not review only for HotSpot to clearly show the touch. Du Plessis, much to the amusement of the South Africa changing room, tried his hardest not to let on what had happened. He also had some problems against Jeetan Patel with one edge falling tantalisingly short of McCullum at slip.

However, like Amla, du Plessis was hungry to make New Zealand pay for their mistake. He went to his fifty with a crunching pull that cleared deep midwicket and benefited from the second new ball as the extra hardness helped it run away. The fifth-wicket stand was worth 102 by the close. In reality, this was still men against boys.

There was early movement on offer in Port Elizabeth's first Test since 2007. The crowd was not massive although, hopefully, over the weekend that will improve. For their sake it was good that New Zealand could not be blown away in a session again. Alviro Petersen did not survive the opening hour, top edging Doug Bracewell to fine leg when he was not fully committed to the shot.

Bracewell was the pick of New Zealand's seamers and troubled Smith, who was not at his best, including clonking him on the back of the helmet as Smith turned his head away from a bouncer. Smith needed a few minutes to compose himself and was close to being lbw a few moments later. That was a curious piece of cricket: the umpire said not out, McCullum decided not to review and replays showed it was hitting middle but Bracewell had overstepped.

Smith's outside edge was located by all three seamers, but he was good enough to keep the ball short of the slips and benefited from a couple of boundaries to third man. Neil Wagner, the left-armer who was recalled in place of Chris Martin, caused some tricky moments but had a tendency to bowl a touch short.

As Smith so often does, he stuck in and reached fifty from 80 balls but then glanced a delivery from Wagner down the leg side. For Wagner it was an emotional wicket against a side that includes former team-mates. His later contest with AB de Villiers, who went past 6000 runs, certainly had an extra level of intrigue.

Kallis began with an imperious pull but got an inside edge driving at Bracewell, leaving Amla and de Villiers to ensure there was no significant wobbles in the middle of the day as they consolidated against the workmanlike attack. The pair added 86 for the fourth wicket until de Villiers lazily gave his innings away when he chipped Patel to midwicket. It was a waste from de Villiers, a mistake that Amla was not going to make.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Edward on January 12, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    Although most cricket lovers want to enjoy a great contest between teams and thus have something worthwhile to write about in their comments, I cannot help but feel that a large chunk of comments make me get the impression that people would like to see South Africa fail on the cricket pitch. Why, I cannot really say. To prove my point, I can refer to comments on Cricinfo during the SA/NZ series last year when reference were made to the then upcoming SA tours of England and Australia. The naysayers all predicted how the English batting line-up and bowlers would get the better of the SA team - same was said of Australia. Now we have the focus shifted to the upcoming Pakistani tour.

    This is a great South African team and I love the way they are not getting ahead of themselves, they don't get involved in funny or unpleasant onfield antics and they show maturity and best of all they make South Africans proud!

  • Merv on January 12, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    Amla is having a purple patch right now. He and Hussey will have similar careers, altho Hussey was possibly better against spinners. Michael Clarke is the best batsman this last year by a long way. Three double centuries and a triple century says it all. No one comes near.

    One has to feel for NZ. With their medium pacers bowling at 120+ trying to get the Saffers out on a relatively flat track.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    @Jb633 - yeah right Aus outplayed SA in the Oz tests! You are being brainwashed by those parochial Aussie commentators like Healey and your own Mark Nicholas. I remind you that SA whipped Aus by 309 runs in the series decider in Perth. You can put any spin on it you like, along with a bunch of one-eyed Aussies but losing by 309 runs cannot by any stretch of the imagination be turned into outplaying the opposition.

  • Imran on January 12, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    I think the difference between SA and Pak will be south africa having a fast bowling allrounder and wicket keeper batsman as pakistan hasnt found any replacemnt of abdul razzaq and their wicket keeper batsman is not upto mark. But this is going to be a series to watch. I am looking forward to watch this series.

  • Imran on January 12, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    Time to go for too old umpires like Ian Gould and Billy bowden.. They are really effecting the results of the games. They have definately lost the concentration.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Faf DuP just got a crack right on his personal hotspot, Bullseye!

    Was that Karma? Should batsmen walk when they know they glove a ball but yet the umpires don't give them out, a la Amla and Gilchrist?

    Or should they follow HD Ackerman's comment: "the only time you should walk is when you miss the bus"?

    With the review system, I think I am now in favour of standing your ground (I didn't used to think that way).

  • Harmon on January 12, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Amla got a 100? Again? South Africa on Top? Again? I thought cricket was certainly meant to be game of glorious uncertainties ... ahhh...I see Kallis got only 6 ....

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    @SCC08- ponting wasnt doing anything great from the last few years(Did only well against indian attack). He still hung onto his position with his thin nails. And he was so confident that he could make it to the ashes before he found out that he is not good enough. May be u can have a look at the stats and better tell the decline in Pontings decline over last 3 years V/s that of Tendulkars consistency.;spanmax1=12+Jan+2013;spanmin1=12+Jan+2011;spanval1=span;template=results;type=allround;spanmax1=12+Jan+2013;spanmin1=12+Jan+2010;spanval1=span;template=results;type=allround

  • greig on January 12, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    All hail Lord Hashim Amla and King Kaliis (the best cricketer ever). All Hail !!!

    Its great being No.1