Blackcaps v South Africa: Proteas send New Zealand in to bowl after winning second-test toss

Allrounder Ruan de Swardt has rescued the South African first innings on the opening day of the second test against New Zealand at Hamilton.

At 150/6 just after tea, the Blackcaps appeared poised to mop up the Proteas tail and perhaps even bat towards the end of play, but de Swardt and spin-bowling debutant Shaun von Berg provided stubborn resistance to win the final session for the tourists.

The pair put on 70 runs before stumps - the first partnership of any substance - as the tourists reached 220/6. After bringing up his maiden test fifty, de Swardt finished on 55 not out, with von Berg unbeaten on 34.

Rachin Ravindra celebrates a wicket against South Africa.
Rachin Ravindra celebrates a wicket against South Africa. Photo credit: Photosport

Allrounder Rachin Ravindra made a surprise impact for the Kiwis after lunch, grabbing the wickets of Zubayr Hamza, Keegan Petersen and David Bedingham in quick succession to maintain their early dominance.

After toiling painfully for 20 runs off 99 balls, Hamza played a rash shot that took a top edge to substitute Santner. Two overs later, Petersen edged to NZ captain Tim Southee in the slips.

South Africa reached tea at 127/5, with Bedingham unbeaten on 25, but he exited in bizarre circumstances, hitting the ball onto his boot and caught by Will Young fielding close.

Earlier, debutant Will O'Rourke captured his first test scalp, as the Blackcaps seized the early advantage.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, the Proteas reached lunch at 64/3, as the NZ bowlers knocked the top of their batting order.

Matt Henry made the initial breakthrough, when fielder Glenn Phillips took a breathtaking catch to dismiss opener Clyde Fortuin for a golden duck in the second over. The visitors reached 40/1 in the 13th over, when O'Rourke trapped Proteas captain Neil Brand leg before wicket for 25.

"Quite special to see a young, big guy run in and bowl quick like he did," reflected Blackcaps veteran Neil Wagner. "He's full of confidence, he's a special talent and it was cool to see him do that in his first session of test cricket.

"To pick up the wicket was pretty awesome."

Just before lunch, Wagner took the vital wicket of Raynard van Tonder, who had scored 32 runs to steady the ship, but guided a short delivery to Tom Latham at gully.

After their 281-run defeat in the first test, South Africa made two changes to their side, adding bowlers von Berg and Dane Piedt.

New Zealand are chasing their first series triumph over South Africa in 72 years, after their 281-run victory in the first test at Mt Maunganui last week.

All the factors that contributed to that comprehensive win remain in play this week - including the gulf of experience with a fresh-faced South African line-up missing several key players.

"We obviously had a great week last week," said Southee. "Like every test match, our focus has been on our preparation over the last couple of days.

"It doesn't change who you play or what test match."

Blackcaps celebrate Will O'Rourke's first test wicket.
Blackcaps celebrate Will O'Rourke's first test wicket. Photo credit: Photosport

Brand thinks the Proteas were not "miles off" in the first test and are determined not to be the first South Africa team to lose a series to New Zealand.

"We definitely want to come away with something, so we are desperate to put in a good performances and we can hopefully we can get ourselves into the game," he said.

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Rachin Ravindra, Will Young, Tom Blundell (wk), Glenn Phillips, Matt Henry, Tim Southee (capt), Neil Wagner, Will O'Rourke

South Africa: Neil Brand (capt), Clyde Fortuin, Raynard van Tonder, Zubayr Hamza, David Bedingham, Keegan Peterson, Ruan de Swardt, Shaun von Berg, Dane Piedt, Tshepo Moreki, Dane Paterson

South Africa 220/6 (de Swardt 55no, von Berg 34no, Van Tonder 32; Ravindra 3/33) at stumps on day one