NEW ZEALAND batter Rachin Ravindra plays a shot during the first Test against South Africa at the Bay Oval on Monday.—AFP
NEW ZEALAND batter Rachin Ravindra plays a shot during the first Test against South Africa at the Bay Oval on Monday.—AFP

MOUNT MAUNG­ANUI: New Zealand batsman Rachin Ravindra converted his maiden century into a majestic double-hundred before the hosts tore through South Africa’s top order to dominate day two of the series-opening Test in Mount Maunganui.

Ravindra crafted 240 from 366 balls, the highest Test score at the Bay Oval, to help Tim Southee’s side reach an imposing total of 511, the hosts having been put in to bat by South Africa’s debutant skipper Neil Brand.

Towering paceman Kyle Jami­eson then took two wickets in three balls in his second over as an under-strength South Afr­ica crumbled to be 80 for four at stumps.

Jamieson took 2-21 and could have had a third if Matt Henry had held a chance in the outfield to remove David Bedingham.

Instead, Bedingham was unbea­ten on 29 at stumps, alongside Keegan Petersen on two, the Proteas trailing by 431 runs late on a glorious afternoon.

The pair are the only members of South Africa’s tour squad who play­ed in the drawn home Test series against India a month ago, with the bulk of their first-choice players having committed to play in the country’s domestic Twenty20 league.

Saddled with six debutants, Sou­th Africa battled hard to contain the hosts on a largely docile wicket, and all-rounder Brand to­ok six wickets for 119 with his left-arm spin in a sparkling debut.

However, the Proteas had few answers for Ravindra, who pushed on after Kane Williamson fell for 118 in the morning, becoming Ruan de Swa­rdt’s first Test wicket.

Ravindra brought up his 200th run with an easy single off Brand and soon eclipsed BJ Watling’s previous highest score of 205 at the ground.

Having made a total of 73 runs from his first six Test innings, left-hander Ravindra’s return to the squad after two years has been a triumph.

“A different role probably helps, you feel more at home in that batting role,” said the newly-minted number four. “And also spending time with the guys in the team. I’ve been in the environment for almost three years now so you gain a lot.”

The 24-year-old’s nine-hour knock of 26 fours and three sixes came to an end when was bowled between his legs attempting to pull Brand to the fence.

Ravindra’s wicket was of little relief for the Proteas bowlers, who were cannon fodder for tail-ender Matt Henry as he blasted 27 runs off nine balls to push the hosts past 500.

Brand became the first South African spinner to take six wickets on Test debut and his figures are the fourth best by a Proteas captain.

His most spectacular effort was a sharp caught-and-bowled to remove Daryl Mitchell for 34 and end a 103-run partnership with Ravindra for the fourth wicket.

The Proteas’ opening batters held firm for nine overs until Jamieson’s intervention.

Opener Brand was Jamieson’s first victim, caught behind for four with a botched leave that caught the bottom of the bat, before fellow-debutant Raynard van Tonder departed in the same over, trapped lbw for a duck.

Paceman Henry boun­ced out opener Edward Moore (23), who sent a thick edge to Devon Conway.

Number four Zubayr Hamza was then removed by spin-bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner for 22, the ball pinging off thigh and elbow in a muddled pull-shot before hitting the stumps.

South Africa batting coa­ch Imr­aan Khan conceded his team would need to fight their way out of a hole.

“Fair play to the Kiwis, I thought they executed quite nicely, in particular Jamieson,” Khan said. “We’ve got to knuckle down, create some partnerships through the rest of the innings and hopefully we can put on a good performance tomorrow. We’ve got two fantastic players who are in at the moment.”

Scoreboard

NEW ZEALAND (1st Innings, overnight 258-2):

T. Latham c Fortuin b Paterson 20
D. Conway lbw b Moreki 1
K. Williamson c Moreki b de Swardt 118
R. Ravindra b Brand 240
D. Mitchell c&b Brand 34
T. Blundell c Hamza b de Swardt 11
G. Phillips c de Swardt b Brand 39
M. Santner b Brand 2
K. Jamieson not out 8
M. Henry c de Swardt b Brand 27
T. Southee b Brand 0

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-2, NB-4, W-3) 11
TOTAL (all out, 144 overs) 511
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-2 (Conway), 2-39 (Latham), 3-271 (Williamson), 4-374 (Mitchell), 5-391 (Blundell), 6-473 (Phillips), 7-474 (Ravindra), 8-479 (Santner), 9-511 (Henry)
BOWLING: Olivier 30-3-119-0 (1w, 2nb), Moreki 27-2-110-1 (1w, 2nb), Paterson 32-5-98-1, de Swardt 29-7-61-2, Brand 26-1-119-6 (1w)

SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings):
E. Moore c Conway b Henry 23
N. Brand c Blundell b Jamieson 4
R. van Tonder lbw b Jamieson 0
Z. Hamza b Santner 22
D. Bedingham not out 29
K. Petersen not out 2

EXTRAS 0
TOTAL (for four wickets, 28 overs) 80
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-26 (Brand), 2-26 (van Tonder), 3-30 (Moore), 4-74 (Hamza)
BOWLING: Southee 8-2-31-0, Henry 7-3-15-1, Jamieson 8-2-21-2, Santner 5-1-13-1

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2024

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