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

Don't drop Amla, simple

ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the opening day in Port Elizabeth

Drop of the day
Teams around the world should have learnt: don't drop Hashim Amla. But still, New Zealand did it. Amla was on 48 when he slashed at a short, wide Trent Boult ball, Kane Williamson needed to move his left to take the catch. He reacted too slowly and by the time he got to the ball all Williamson could do get a loose hand to it. He gave Amla a second chance and that was all he needed. Amla brought up his 19th Test century and fourth against New Zealand as the day drew to a close.

Aggression of the day
Brendon McCullum asked his bowlers to show more intent and at least one of them listened. With the first ball of his second over, Doug Bracewell opted for the short ball and found some awkward bounce. Graeme Smith took his eyes off the ball and as he turned away, was hit on the back of the head. Smith did not seem rattled at first but soon realised he needed a few minutes to recompose himself. He crouched to his haunches and called for the medical team. There was no blood but he seemed a little woozy. After a few sips of water and a quiet word with the physiotherapist, Smith was ready to carry on.

Disbelief of the day
In three overs after lunch, Smith scored four boundaries as he muscled his way to a half-century. He was looking as imperious as he did in Perth last month when he scored at seven runs an over with Amla to bat Australia out of the match. Smith turned the ball fine to beat the legslip in the over before he was dismissed but when he tried to repeat that, he gloved it through to BJ Watling. Smith was furious with himself and it showed. He shook his head all the way from the crease to the edge of the boundary where he slowed down to watch the replay of his own dismissal. On seeing how he was caught down the leg-side, he continued to mutter and mumble in anger.

Shots of the day
Jacques Kallis greeted Port Elizabeth with an imperious pull shot off Doug Bracewell to bring up his first runs. It was an uncharacteristically aggressive start for Kallis but it became even more so when he followed up with another pull off the next ball. The second shot was played in absolute anger as Kallis hit the ball hard and kept it along the ground. Those were Kallis' only scoring shots but they were memorable.

Non-review of the day
New Zealand considered reviewing an lbw shout against Smith off Bracewell's bowling. It would have been in vain because even though the ball was hitting the stumps, Bracewell had overstepped. What they should have reviewed was the caught behind off Faf du Plessis after the second new ball had been taken. Watling, McCullum and Boult who was bowling appealed as the ball looked to have grazed du Plessis' glove but did not ask for it to go upstairs. What should have tipped them off was the guilty look on du Plessis' face and the sheepish glance he tried to make in New Zealand's direction. Hotspot showed a mark on the glove and New Zealand missed out on the chance to end day one on a high.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on January 12, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    @Ayem Gilani on (January 11 2013, 21:47 PM GMT), the fact that someone is generally good at something does not mean that they are immune to criticism when they make a mistake. Noone is saying that Williamson is a poor fielder. The fact is that he made a mistake and that is what has been reported. As an England fan, I can tell you that it can be a very expensive mistake to make, as is proving the case yet again here.

  • John on January 12, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    Hashim Amla must be the luckiest batsman in the world at the moment. Don't get me wrong; I'm not denying the guy's talent, but how many times has he been dropped lately? If England had held their catches then he wouldn't have reached 50 all tour, in any format. I seem to recall that Australia dropped him at least once, perhaps more. You've still got to score the runs after being dropped and Amla has done that so I second the motion: do not drop Hashim Amla.

  • Narayan on January 12, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    Hashim Amla is the New Wall. A memorable day that he got a hundred on Rahul Dravid's birthday. Hope he will overtake Brian Lara's 400 in his Test career.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    @Ayem Gilani where are they criticizing K.Williamson fielding??? :) They've just tried to convey that how costly the amla drop can be.. I think u missed the point.

  • Beau on January 12, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    This is the contest we wanted to see from the start.

    Without Taylor, Ryder, Southee or Vettori , NZ aren't likely to be in the hunt against this SA side (probably wouldn't be in the hunt at full strength, really). But they came out hard today, didn't have much luck, and kept fighting. That really is all I, as a fan, expect on this tour. Frustrating to think what could have been, bowling with the new ball to the lower order. Oh well, such is Test cricket. Maybe one or two close ones will go the other way tomorrow. I hope a few fall in the 1st session, both for sake of the kiwis and the Test.

    SA were imperial today, and never really looked to get out of 2nd or 3rd gear. Just casually piled 'em up. Being a non-AUS-supporting-Aussie, I wish this team had turned up on our shores in this form, and given Clarke and co a darn good spanking. Oh well, such is Test cricket.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    He's the most beatific looking batsman since John the Baptist donned the pads. He emanates peace. I think he should be UN Secretary-General when he's done. Don't say anything just travel around the world gazing at everyone.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    Really?, for people so informed on cricket its foolish to criticize Williamson's fielding. Hes plucked out a blinder in each of his last 5 tests

  • Devendra on January 11, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Faf du Plessis is really great to watch when playing well and hope to see him really cement his spot in tests. What a start to his career!!! Hashim Amla is just the greatest at the moment right now and continuing his great form from 2012. What a team!

  • Athol on January 11, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    Firdose, you are a good writer. However, this one thing you have in common with many of your peers, you trot out the preconceived perceptions like they are candy. Kallis was once a slow scoring conservative batsman, but for a good while now, aggression is not uncharacteristic of the man. Similarly, Gibbs was always described as an attacking batsman even though his strike rate dropped to about 50 during the latter stages of his career. I can mention many more examples, Hussey, Ponting etc. I would love for commentators to move with the times rather than stay with the labels. Cummon Firdose, break the mould as you have been doing already as a female journo in a male dominated sport.

  • Shayaq Ul Abeer on January 11, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    Hashim Amla is getting better with every innings he plays. A cool, humble & flamboyant strokePlayer gifted with class & temprament. Once he gets in he is there for a big score. With addition of Faf du Plessis in middle order South Africa looks a super team at the moment. If only weak link in squad is that is its spin bowling.

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