It took just three days to gun down South Africa for New Zealand, who showed their firepower against one of the competent Test sides in world cricket. Neither South Africa looked better with the bat nor with the ball – New Zealand took full advantage.
On Day 1, Matt Henry recorded the joint-third-best figures by a New Zealand bowler with a career-best 7 for 23, including three wickets in the same over, to dismiss South Africa for their lowest total against New Zealand and lowest in 23 Tests.
On a seamer-friendly Christchurch surface, Henry made use of the movement and bounce and almost single-handedly bowled South Africa out for 95, their lowest total batting first since 1932. In so doing, Henry registered the best bowling figures against South Africa since 1915.
And if the historical data is not enough to underline New Zealand’s dominance of the opening day, their top four wiped out the deficit inside 34 overs, and took the lead by the close of play.
Not only did no one score from South Africa more than Zubayr Hamza’s 25 but they also dropped four chances in the field in an underwhelming showing, especially coming off their series win against India.
On day 2, Henry Nicholls scored his eighth Test century. Tom Blundell fell six short of his third. And Matt Henry continued his record-breaking ways, becoming the first No. 11 to score a fifty after taking a seven-for. All of which left South Africa with a mountain to climb in the first Test.
New Zealand extended their lead to 387 and then reduced South Africa to 4 for 3 in the reply.
On a surface that is just two days old and continues to offer good bounce and swing through the air, they will hope they’ve done enough to bat once.
Sarel Erwee, Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram were dismissed inside four overs in the second innings.
On Day 3, New Zealand completed a convincing innings-and-276-run win over South Africa, two-and-a-half hours into the third day in Christchurch, to take an unassailable 1-nil lead in the two-match series. The result means New Zealand have given themselves an opportunity to complete a first series win over South Africa and have registered only their fifth Test win over South Africa in 46 meetings, 18 years after their last victory – in Auckland in 2004. The loss was the visitors’ second-biggest ever in the format.
The home attack dominated proceedings in conditions that remained seamer-friendly. Tim Southee found swing and became New Zealand’s leading wicket-taker at home, Matt Henry moved the ball off the seam and finished with match figures of 9 for 55 and Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson challenged South Africa with the short ball.
South Africa bettered their first innings score of 95 but that will be scant consolation for a dismal performance and defeat in seven sessions. They lost 7 for 77 on the third morning.
“Yeah, it’s obviously great for the side. It’s been documented it’s a long time ago since we haven’t seen any of those three names who are such a vital part of the side. I guess its testament to the depth that we’re creating to the depth in New Zealand cricket that guys who haven’t played a lot can step up and come up and perform straight away,” said Tom Latham.
“For me, it’s just about trying to fill this position as well I can. Certainly, when Kane’s available, he’ll slip right back in. For me, it’s just about trying to continue what this group has been doing for such a long period of time. Got some great leaders amongst the group. Got some experience as well even, though we’ve lost some over the last couple of Test matches. But I guess trying to continue the formula that New Zealand cricket has produced over recent years and I guess I probably had my spin on things in terms of doing things slightly differently but I think as a whole it’s about continuing the blueprint as best I can. We’ve had some really good success recently and just trying to continue that.”
Note: Inputs from ESPNcricinfo