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New Zealand thrash South Africa by 281 runs to win opening Test at Bay Oval | Cricket News


New Zealand took their time but eased to a comprehensive victory over an inexperienced South Africa side by 281 runs late on the fourth day of the first Test on Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

The Black Caps had held a first-innings lead of 349 and declared their second innings on 179-4 just before the start of play at Bay Oval to present the Proteas with an imposing victory target of 529.

They never looked like getting close to it but showed some resistance before seamer Kyle Jamieson (4-58) made key breakthroughs and spinner Mitchell Santner (3-59) mopped up the tail to bowl them out for 247.

“Pretty happy, I think any time you win a Test match inside four days it’s always pretty pleasing,” said New Zealand skipper Tim Southee.

“We know that any South African team is going to fight, they are very passionate people, and we knew that they were going to be up for it over this Test match.”

New Zealand Kyle Jamieson, centre, is congratulated by teammate Tim Southee, right, after taking the wicket of Raynard van Tonder on day four of the first cricket test between New Zealand and South Africa at Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)
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Kyle Jamieson (4-58) came out firing after lunch to remove Zubayr Hamza (36) and Raynard van Tonder (31)

New Zealand have never beaten South Africa in a Test series in almost a century of trying but if they finish the job in the second Test in Hamilton next week, the breakthrough triumph will come with a hefty asterisk.

The Proteas sent a severely weakened squad featuring eight uncapped players to New Zealand for the series as Cricket South Africa prioritised their financially lucrative T20 competition (SA20).

The Black Caps could only play what was in front of them, however, and simply outclassed their opponents over four, mostly sunny, days at Mount Maunganui.

Local hero Kane Williamson became only the fifth New Zealander to score a century in each innings and all-rounder Rachin Ravindra was named Man of the Match for his mammoth 240 in the first.

Zubayr Hamza of South Africa bats as New Zealand wicketkeeper Tom Blundell attempts to catch the ball on day four of the first cricket test between New Zealand and South Africa at Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)
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The second and final Test takes place in Hamilton from February 13

“Rachin we’ve seen over the last six months or so is a special talent and he showed in this Test match what he’s capable of. I’m sure he’s got a bright future,” added Southee.

New Zealand’s seamers, so strong in their own conditions, produced few fireworks but took wickets in bursts to break up key partnerships and allowed only one South African batter a half-century over the match.

South Africa skipper Neil Brand was left bemoaning dropped catches on day one that handed lives to Williamson and Ravindra.

“It’s very deflating,” said the 27-year-old, who took eight wickets in his first Test.

“I felt day one, we were in the game there and if you take those two chances, you never know what will happen. But yeah, completely outplayed by a very good New Zealand team.”

How New Zealand won with a day to spare

New Zealand looked like they would make short work of the South African batters on Wednesday when openers Brand and Edward Moore departed inside the first 20 minutes of play.

Zubayr Hamza (36) and Raynard van Tonder (31), though, stalled their progress with a stand of 63 for the third wicket that got South Africa through the first session.

Jamieson came out firing after lunch to remove both in short order but David Bedingham then proved an even more serious roadblock.

The 29-year-old, playing his third test, finally reproduced his prolific first-class form at the elite level with a superbly aggressive knock of 87 to take his team to tea at 173-4.

New Zealand's Mitch Santner leaps in the air as he attempts to take a catch off his own bowling on day four of the first cricket test between New Zealand and South Africa at Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)
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New Zealand have taken full advantage of an inexperienced South Africa side

Jamieson got his man shortly after the break when Bedingham threw away his chance of a maiden hundred by attacking a short ball and holing out at deep midwicket.

Keegan Petersen (16) was the next batter to fall when he too took on a short Jamieson delivery but only succeeded in pulling the ball to Ravindra at long leg.

Specialist spinner Santner was having little luck and part-timer Glenn Phillips made the next breakthrough when Clyde Fortuin (11) hit a shot that came off the close fielder’s knee and flew into the air for an easy catch.

Santner finally got into the act deep into the last session to finish the job by removing Duanne Olivier (1), Tshepo Moreki (6) and Dane Paterson (15). Ruan de Swardt was left on 34 not out.

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