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Heroes and Villains: NZ v South Africa - day one


By Chris Matthews

Published: 6:11AM Friday March 16, 2012 Source: ONE Sport


One could nominate the rain after it delayed the inevitable yet staggering New Zealand collapse of five wickets when the total was on 133 but for the sake of crediting a hostile attack of fast bowling that turned the Test on its head, it's a toss up between Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. Styen, who wasn't at his best in Dunedin, showed why he is the world''s premier fast bowler in picking up 3/49 and Philander continued his incredible run in Test cricket by picking up 4/70 to increase his tally to 39 wickets from just five and a half Tests.


No contest. Brendon McCullum once again showed why he is the most frustrating of cricketers. After playing an almost flawless innings of 61 with a determination you often don't associate with the man we call Baz, he choked by pulling a Steyn delivery right down deep square-leg's throat. Inexplicable.


There weren't many New Zealand highlights yesterday - if any - but Kruger van Wyk's outstanding diving catch off the bowling of Chris Martin to get rid of Graeme Smith gave Taylor's men a glimmer of hope. Say what you will about the wicketkeeper but the guy is a fighter and definitely the best South African in the New Zealand team.


If the New Zealand cricket team can cling to one positive on the opening day of carnage it may be the sudden awareness of a number to be feared at all times. Much like how English cricket fans lift their feet when the Nelson number of 111 clocks on to the scoreboard or how Australians dread the devil number of 87, New Zealand supporters can now come up with their own form of witchcraft when the total is on 133.


Despite losing two early wickets, this is now South Africa's Test to lose. New Zealand had seemingly fought through the demons of the Seddon Park pitch by battling their way to 133/2 before folding in an all too familiar fashion. To be fair to of all New Zealand's batsmen, with the exception of McCullum, they were done by deliveries that were of the highest quality. Which just goes to show the difference between the two teams - one can change a Test in a session while the other is fighting to stay in the contest from beginning to end.


New Zealand still has a small amount of hope. They can indeed make a Test of this if they take early wickets when the ball is swinging but if they fail to do so in the first hour watch Hasim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Jacques Rudolph bat the Black Caps well and truely out of this match.