MOUNT MAUNGANUI: Rachin Ravindra made a stunning double century on Monday, but before South Africa’s top order fell apart, New Zealand took control of the opening Test match at Mount Maunganui. The host team was dismissed for 511 thanks to a career-best 240 from Ravindra, but the tourists’ inexperience was evident when they were reduced to 80-4 at stumps on day two.
Six players who have never played in an international cricket match make up the Proteas team, which will resume on Tuesday at Bay Oval with a 431-run deficit after four wickets fell in the last 14 overs. After taking 2-21, seamer Kyle Jamieson might have added a third if Matt Henry had been able to remove David Bedingham from the game in the outfield. Rather, at stumps, Bedingham was undefeated on 29 and Keegan Petersen on two. The majority of South Africa’s first-choice players have committed to play in the domestic Twenty20 competition, leaving the two players as the only members of the tour team who participated in the drawn home Test series against India a month ago.
Jamieson’s first victim was captain and opener Neil Brand, who was caught behind for four. Later in the over, fellow rookie Raynard van Tonder was out, having been trapped leg before wicket for a two-ball duck. Before Zubayr Hamza (22) edged a ball from spinner Mitchell Santner into his stumps, Edward Moore (23) puffed a Henry bouncer to a close fielder.
Imraan Khan, the batting coach for South Africa, acknowledged that his squad would have to struggle to climb out of a hole. “I think the Kiwis, especially Jamieson, executed quite nicely,” Khan remarked. “We need to get our act together, form some partnerships to get through the remainder of the inning, and hopefully we can perform well tomorrow.” Right now, we have two outstanding players participating. -AFP
Earlier, in an attempt to get rapid runs, New Zealand’s final five wickets fell for 38 runs. Among them was Ravindra, who, after scoring just eighteen runs in his six prior Test innings, made a stunning comeback in the longest format with a knock of 366 balls. In his three Test matches, he was chosen as an all-rounder, although he claimed he felt more at ease as a specialist batsman who batted at number four. “You feel more at home in that batting role, so it probably helps,” he remarked. “And also interacting with the team’s male members. I’ve been in this setting for about three years, so you really benefit from it.
“You always want to feel successful and like you belong.” Starting the day at 118, the left-hander hit 26 fours and three sixes, displaying a prolific stroke-making style that was reminiscent of his exploits during the 50-over World Cup in India last year. While attempting to pull left-arm spinner Brand, Ravindra was bowled; Brand went on to earn figures of 6-119.
On his Test debut, Brand became the first spinner from South Africa to capture six wickets, and his numbers rank fourth among all Proteas captains. His most impressive stroke was a deft caught-and-bowled to halt a 103-run partnership with Ravindra for the fourth wicket, dismissing Daryl Mitchell for 34. That came after a 232-run stand between Kane Williamson and Ravindra. Williamson was caught on 118 while attempting to hit a huge hit from Ruan de Swardt. -AFP