Rachin Ravindra hit his maiden Test century, while Kane Williamson scored his 30th Test hundred in an unbeaten 219-run stand for the third wicket, guiding New Zealand to a commanding total of 258 for two on the first day of the opening Test against a weakened South African side at Bay Oval.
Opting to bowl first after winning the toss, South Africa got off to a promising start as Tshepo Moreki, one of six debutants for the Proteas, dismissed Devon Conway with his first ball in Test cricket. Dane Paterson soon joined the party, sending Tom Blundell back to the pavilion with a caught-behind dismissal.
However, the day belonged to the resilient duo of Ravindra and Williamson, who weathered the storm and built a solid partnership under the sunny skies of Mount Maunganui. Despite South Africa’s disciplined bowling efforts, the pair displayed remarkable patience and determination, ensuring New Zealand ended the day without further losses.
Ravindra, showcasing maturity beyond his years, remained unbeaten on 118, while Williamson stood firm at the crease with an impressive 112 not out.
Although there were moments of frustration for Williamson, notably when he mistimed a shot off Ruan de Swardt, luck was on his side as the fielder couldn’t hold onto the catch. Nonetheless, he continued to accumulate runs steadily, reaching his half-century and eventually converting it into yet another century, adorned with elegant strokes.
Ravindra, the talented all-rounder recently recognized as the ICC Emerging Player of the Year, seized the opportunity to shine in his return to the test arena after a two-year absence. His century, punctuated with aggressive yet calculated strokes, was a testament to his burgeoning talent and determination.
South Africa, fielding an unfamiliar lineup due to prioritizing the SA20 competition, struggled to contain the relentless onslaught from the New Zealand batsmen. Despite glimpses of promise from Moreki and the seamers, they failed to break the partnership or stem the flow of runs effectively.
With the match poised for an intriguing battle over the next four days, South Africa’s bowlers remain optimistic about their chances to bounce back in the series. However, they acknowledge the challenge posed by the resilient Kiwi batsmen and the need for an improved performance in the upcoming sessions.