New Zealand captain Tom Latham hailed a “perfect performance” after his team completed a one-sided demolition of a pitiful South Africa, winning the first Test by an innings and 276 runs before lunch on day three day on Saturday. Tim Southee took five wickets as New Zealand bowled out South Africa for 111 in their second innings, a paltry total that was nonetheless more than their first innings haul.
The result ended a 16-match winless streak by the Black Caps in Tests between the two nations, stretching back to 2004. The reigning world Test champions have never won a series against South Africa but will break their duck barring a major turnaround in the second Test of the two-match series. Pace bowler Matt Henry was named Player of the Match after picking up nine wickets overall, including 7-23 in the first innings at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
He also made a swashbuckling 58 not out batting at No. 11. “You’ve got to give credit to the bowling group,” Henry said, deflecting praise. “We created pressure at both ends for a long period and I was the one that got the rewards at the other end.”
Latham, captain in the absence of injured Kane Williamson, acknowledged that the toss had been crucial, but heaped praise on the way his bowlers had clinically exploited the helpful conditions. “Winning the toss was a big part of it, but from there, guys put the ball in the right area,” he said. To back up the performance with the bat on a wicket that was a little tricky, you look back and it was probably the perfect performance really.
“You look at a blueprint and putting a big first innings total on the board obviously allowed our guys to come out and we put the ball in the right area again in the second innings.” South Africa endured a 10-day lockdown on arrival in New Zealand, but captain Dean Elgar refused to use that less-than-ideal preparation as an excuse.
Not a single South Africa batter made a half century in the match, with Temba Bavuma’s knock of 41 in the second innings the best of the bunch.
The bowlers were hit at nearly four runs an over, and the fielders dropped numerous catches, several of them regulation chances. “(We were) pretty much outkilled in all three departments of Test cricket, failed to execute the basics,” said opener Elgar, who almost made a pair, scoring one and zero.
“Not a very good show considering what we’ve built up prior to coming to New Zealand. Extremely disappointing the way the last few days have gone.
“It boils down to intensity. Test cricket demands intensity. I don’t think we were there the last two-and-a-half days.” The second Test, also in Christchurch, starts on Friday, leaving South Africa with nearly a week to regroup from their shocking performance and somehow find a way to draw the series.