Proteas reach 123/4 vs New Zealand on rain-marred opening day

Indo Asian News Service

Hamilton, March 25 (IANS) Former skipper Hashim Amla's 32nd half century helped South Africa reach 123/4 against New Zealand on an intriguing opening day of the third and final Test, cut short because of rain at the Seddon Park here on Saturday.

Skipper Faf du Plessis was batting on 33 with Temba Bavuma on 13 for company when the umpires removed the bails for the day. Only 41 overs were possible with nearly three hours of play lost on the first day of the deciding Test because of the weather.

The duo's unbroken 26-run stand came after Amla's valuable half-century. His 50 off 93 balls included nine boundaries and helped the visiting side recover from 5/2, according to an International Cricket Council (ICC) report.

Du Plessis won the toss for the eighth consecutive time in New Zealand, but the home side had the early success as both openers fell in the first four overs.

Theunis de Bruyn had a debut to forget, falling for a duck when he edged his third ball, from Matt Henry, to Tom Latham at second slip.

Dean Elgar was bowled when he shouldered arms to a Colin de Grandhomme delivery that came back from outside the off stump.

Jean Paul Duminy and Amla offered a period of stability before Henry had Duminy caught on the boundary for 20 just before lunch. De Grandhomme bowled Amla seven overs after the resumption.

Rain brought an early end to the middle session 14.2 overs after lunch, and no further play was possible despite the efforts of the ground staff.

Henry finished the day with 2/25 and de Grandhomme 2/43.

South Africa leads the series 1-0 and wants a win in Hamilton to move up to second on the ICC Test team rankings. However, the weather could have the final say on the outcome.