Hashim Amla’s fifty dug the Proteas out of trouble to 123-4 by tea on a rain-affected day one in Hamilton.
It’s been a stop-start day at Seddon Park, but New Zealand will feel like they’ve made more progress than their opponents so far. After having the Proteas on the ropes at 5-2, the Black Caps continued to plug away, despite failing to use the Decision Review System correctly, as they’ve failed to do all series.
Not only did New Zealand miss the chance to see off JP Duminy on seven, but they also used up two failed reviews on him after that, bringing back memories of their struggles with the system, used against the same player, in the second Test. It didn’t prove too costly as they removed him for 20, before Amla’s 50.
Winning the toss and choosing to bat, Faf du Plessis’ men had themselves to blame for their poor start. Theunis de Bruyn, making his Test debut at the expense of the dropped Stephen Cook, played at one he shouldn’t have off the bowling off Matt Henry for a duck. Then Dean Elgar didn’t play at one he should have, leaving a ball that angled in to the stumps from Colin de Grandhomme.
Henry stepped up in the absence of the injured Tim Southee and Trent Boult, while Neil Wagner was unlucky not to get a wicket for his tireless efforts. Amla was dropped on 22 from a sharp chance for Neil Broom at cover, denying Henry a second wicket, but he would get his second a few overs later, forcing the scratchy Duminy to rush on a short ball, only to top edge it to Jeetan Patel at fine leg.
Skipper Du Plessis was almost run out on one at the stroke of lunch, but after the break he showed purpose with Amla, as the pair struck up a flurry of boundaries to take their side close to the 100-mark. Amla brought up his fifty, but gave away his wicket shortly after that, swiping at a full delivery across the line to De Grandhomme, only to be bowled to depart for fifty on the dot. It was the knock the Proteas have been looking for from him though, in what was just his second score of fifty or more in 16 Test innings.
Du Plessis (33) and Temba Bavuma (13) got to work before the rain fell. Numerous bouts of drizzle followed for tea to eventually be called, with the Proteas on 123-4 off 41 overs.
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