New Zealand eye big win in first Test against South Africa

Hosts reduce Proteas to 34-3 after Henry Nicholls century hands 387-run first innings lead

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Henry Nicholls and Matt Henry spearheaded a commanding display as New Zealand built a 387-run first innings lead that left South Africa in deep strife on day two of the first Test on Friday.

At stumps in Christchurch, South Africa were 34-3, with Temba Bavuma on 22 and Rassie van der Dussen on nine, and needing another 353 to make New Zealand bat again. The record first-innings deficit overhauled for victory is 291 by Australia against Sri Lanka in 1992.

New Zealand were all out in their first innings late on day two for 482 in reply to South Africa's 95.

The home side's innings was anchored by Nicholls with 105. Tom Blundell (96) commanded the middle and tail while number 11 batsman Matt Henry added to his 7-23 with the ball by frustrating the South Africans with an unbeaten 57.

Henry then took one of the three South African second innings wickets to fall.

Nicholls went to the middle with New Zealand at 36-2, and during his 267 minutes stay he shared in partnerships of 75 with Devon Conway (36), 80 with Neil Wagner (49), and 48 with Daryl Mitchell (16).

As the wicket flattened into a more suitable batting strip rather than the green-tinged bowlers' paradise when the tourists were rolled on the first day, Blundell took advantage of a tiring South African pace attack.

He saw off the second new ball in a 76-run stand with Colin de Grandhomme (45) for the seventh wicket and added 94 for the final wicket with Henry. There were seven New Zealand partnerships better than South Africa's best of 33 between Zubayr Hamza and Kyle Verreynne.

As New Zealand commanded the crease, South Africa captain Dean Elgar had some reward when he turned to part-time spinner Aiden Markram with the second new ball only 9.4 overs old.

Markram had immediate success with de Grandhomme's wicket just before tea and immediately after the resumption, he removed Kyle Jamieson for 15 to have New Zealand 368-8.

Tim Southee went quickly for four but when South Africa thought the innings end was in sight, Blundell and Henry kept them in the field for a further 101 deliveries.

Nicholls, dropped on five and 24, gave no further chances until he edged Duanne Olivier to second slip to be out for 105.

Updated: February 18, 2022, 9:32 AM
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