Slow but promising start for Proteas
South Africa 99/1 (Smith 40*, Amla 32*, Petersen 22, Bracewell 1/19)
There were none of the pyrotechnics of the first session of the Newlands Test against New Zealand as South Africa proceeded serenely at St George’s Park today.
With the pitch not yet showing its capricious nature, even though it had to be evened out manually because of a fungus, there were no undue flutters for the openers on day one of the second Test.
Alviro Petersen, who made a strong – rather cocky – start, smashing the Kiwi bowlers around the park, will rue a missed opportunity.
Playing his first Test in the town of his birth, he fell to a short ball from from Doug Bracewell, top-edging it to Jeetan Patel at fine-leg.
It was the end of what looked like a promising innings.
Both teams sported changes from the first Test.
Vernon Philander’s tight hamstring was deemed too risky for him to be given a run, gifting Rory Kleinveldt another opportunity.
New Zealand left out veteran seamer Chris Martin and all-rounder James Franklin, giving South African-born left-arm paceman Neil Wagner a slot alongside Bracewell and Boult with Colin Munro earning a Test debut.
There was not much swing about, making New Zealand rely on the basic tenets of line and length.
Wagner’s first spell was impressive, giving Graeme Smith issues outside offstump, but the Proteas’ captain, who had a rare failure at Newlands, was intent on seeing out the new ball.
His crisp cuts, one of the few aesthetically pleasing shots from his rather ugly manual, were unfurled every time he was afforded width.
Hashim Amla joined in, with less of the confidence but all of the panache that comes with his batting.
The start may be quiet by South Africa’s standards of late, but with the grinding down of an attack, comes the feasting in the later sessions as the 70-run partnersship between Smith and Amla can only get threatening.
New Zealand’s bowlers haven’t completely given it away though.