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Cricket | SA Team

SA make perfect start to year



South Africa made the perfect start to the new year, thrashing New Zealand by an innings and 27 runs before tea on the third day of the first test match in Cape Town on Friday.

“We wanted to build on the momentum we created in 2012 and it's been the perfect way to start our summer at home,” said Protea skipper Graeme Smith.

“We bowled superbly in both new-ball spells, in both the first and second innings. We were excellent in terms of the areas we hit and the intensity with which we started.”

Smith said his bowlers asked the right questions early on and – with the exception of a short spell after tea on Thursday when the bowling was a little loose – it was a very good bowling performance.

In a courageous batting effort by New Zealand, they were eventually bowled out for 275 in their second innings and would rue their pitiful performance in the first, where they were skittled for 45.

Dale Steyn took three wickets while Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis took two apiece. Morne Morkel and Robin Peterson took the remaining two wickets.

After his phenomenal five-for-seven on the first morning – a feat which won him Man of the Match – Philander was wicketless in New Zealand's second innings until he changed to the Kelvin Grove End and put paid to BJ Watling after lunch.

The South African-born Watling was the stumbling block and when he was eventually caught by Graeme Smith at first slip for 42, it was all over bar the shouting.

A maiden test century by Dean Brownlie, together with Watling's contribution, delayed the inevitable result, and prolonged the match to an unexpected afternoon session.

“We expect them to show commitment to the cause and to really guts it out and I think they did that today,” said Smith.

“They showed good discipline and were fairly defensive in their mind-set. The wicket on day one produced a lot more for us than it did last night and today there wasn't as much swing and movement but we needed to be disciplined and we stuck to our guns well.”

Having resisted the South African attack all morning, it was not until Morkel took the new ball just before lunch, that Brownlie picked out Peterson at deep point and gave him an easy catch.

He had scored 109 runs off 186 balls including 13 fours and two sixes.

It was the only wicket to fall in the morning session after the Kiwis had appeared so composed while adding 63 runs to their overnight score.

“I thought Brownlie's 100 was excellent. I know we created a few chances which we put down – which could have got us over the line earlier – but our catching has been consistently good over a long period of time so I'm not too worried,” said Smith.

“We toiled hard and bowled out the opposition for under 300 both times so it was a great game for us.”

Brownlie and Watling, who boasted only 15 tests between them before this one, shared a vital, fifth-wicket stand of 74 with their 50 coming up off 155 balls, including four fours.

Playing in only his eighth test, Brownlie went to his hundred off 160 balls, with both his sixes coming while he was in the nervous nineties.

On 92, he whacked Peterson over deep mid-wicket to move to 98 and, in the spinner's next over, Brownlie danced down the pitch to drive the ball effortlessly over long-off to bring up the milestone – with another six.

With the ground virtually sold out for all three days of the test, Smith said it felt good to play in front of a home crowd after being on the road for nearly 12 months.

“When you're away, you're removed from the people back home and what they're experiencing, so to come back home and play in Cape Town gives us an energy and the turnout is important for us,” he said.

“Hopefully people around the rest of the country will follow suit and we can keep providing the same results.”

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