New Zealand on top as SAfrican toss gamble backfires

Published: Friday, November 9, 2007, 1:43 [IST]
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New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond admitted it had been a good toss to lose after his team bowled out South Africa for 226 on the first day of the first Test at the Wanderers stadium Thursday.

New Zealand were 41 for two at the close.

Bond and fellow opening bowler Chris Martin were mainly responsible for South Africa's collapse on an overcast day. Bond took four for 73 and Martin three for 67.

Bond and Martin received economical support from fellow seamers Jacob Oram and Iain O'Brien while left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, in his first Test as captain, bowled immaculately to take two for 26 in 18 overs.

"We didn't know what to expect from the pitch," said Bond. "We were going to bat. As it turned out, it was a good toss to lose."

South African coach Mickey Arthur said batting first in the conditions had been a gamble, based on recent history in which the pitch has deteriorated considerably in the later stages of matches.

"We had to take the gamble," he said. "We're a little bit below par. It was a pitch on which the batsmen didn't really feel in, but a good bowling performance could get us back in the match."

Herschelle Gibbs made a patient 63 for South Africa and agreed with Arthur's assessment of the pitch.

"Their bowlers used the conditions well. You needed to bat with discipline and try to leave as many balls as possible," he said.

None of the batsmen looked comfortable and Gibbs needed 125 balls for his 63 runs, which included 13 fours.

Bond bowled superbly to Gibbs at the start of the match and it took Gibbs 30 minutes and 19 balls to score his first run.

Gibbs was involved in a third wicket stand of 53 with Jacques Kallis and 49 for the fifth with AB de Villiers before he finally lost concentration and edged an attempted cut against Martin to former skipper Stephen Fleming at first slip.

Kallis, who made three centuries and a half century in four innings in South Africa's series victory against Pakistan last month, was given two lives by the New Zealand fielders but the lapses proved inexpensive.

On 23, Kallis edged Martin to Michael Papps at third slip and four runs later hooked Martin to fine leg where O'Brien dropped a straightforward catch.

O'Brien made up for his lapse when he had Kallis caught behind off an inside edge for 29 with the first ball after lunch.

South African capitain Graeme Smith admitted at the toss that it was not an easy decision to bat and his concerns were justified when he was bowled by Martin off an inside edge in the second over.

Hashim Amla flicked a six over midwicket off Bond but was then caught behind off the fast bowler.

Kallis's dismissal was quickly followed by that of Ashwell Prince and the pattern of batsmen spending time at the crease without looking comfortable continued when de Villiers played some fine attacking shots but needed 80 balls in making 33 before he was caught low-down at gully by Oram off Bond in the second over after tea.

Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher made 43 before he was ninth man out when he top-edged an attempted sweep against Vettori.

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