Henry Nicholls’ maiden Test century was the centrepiece of a New Zealand fightback on the opening day at the Basin Reserve which was capped by the removal of both South Africa’s openers.
JP Duminy nipped in with a career-best 4 for 47 as South Africa’s spinners shared six wickets to keep New Zealand to 268, but that total grew in significance when Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme struck in a tense seven-over period before stumps.
From 21 for 3 – after early damage done by Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada – New Zealand’s total represented a good recovery particularly considering the inexperience of the top order. That said, when Nicholls and BJ Watling put on 116 for the sixth wicket, they will have expected a few more than they ended up with from 217 for 5. The fact that they slipped against the fill-in offspin of Duminy, who claimed three wickets in consecutive overs, will have been a little difficult to stomach.
Still, it was South Africa who finished feeling queasy. Faced with a 25-minute period to face before the close, Stephen Cook’s poor series continued when he edged a loose poke to second slip and then de Grandhomme, given the new ball ahead of Neil Wagner, had Dean Elgar taken in the same position: it took New Zealand 548 balls to remove him twice in Dunedin and 19 to get him the first time here.