Ntini strikes as South Africa take control
by AFP

Ground:New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Scorecard:South Africa v New Zealand
Player:M Ntini, DW Steyn, GC Smith, HM Amla
Event:New Zealand in South Africa 2005/06

DateLine: 5th May 2006


Makhaya Ntini ripped through the New Zealand batting as South Africa grabbed a commanding position on the first day of the third and final Test against New Zealand at the Wanderers on Friday.


Fast bowler Ntini took five for 35 as New Zealand were bowled out for 119 after being sent in to bat.


Then captain Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla hit half-centuries as South Africa reached 133 for four at the close, losing two wickets in fading light shortly before the close.


Ntini had good support from new ball partner Dale Steyn, who took three for 43, as New Zealand were bowled out shortly before tea on a pitch which offered bounce and extravagant seam movement.


"We were unlucky to lose two wickets when it got a bit dark but that can only work in our favour," said Steyn, who said the umpires had set the benchmark for light decisions for the rest of the match.


"They're going to have to play in the same conditions if we are bowling to them tomorrow."


Smith pressed home his team's advantage and ended the longest streak of failures in his Test career as he hammered 63 off 64 balls, sharing a second wicket of 98 with Amla.


Smith had gone eight Tests and 15 innings since his previous half-century, against the West Indies in Antigua a year and two days ago.


Amla followed up his century in the drawn second Test in Cape Town with an assured 56 before he was out shortly before the close when he spliced a lifting ball from Scott Styris to second slip.


New Zealand, needing a win to draw level in the series, made a horror start, losing their first three wickets for two runs.


Captain Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle put on 55 for the fourth wicket but Astle was out eight balls after lunch as the slide resumed.


Astle said batting conditions were difficult but said it was not surprising considering the weather conditions leading up to the match, which is being played in autumn conditions.


"It did a little bit but the groundsman can only do so much," said Astle.


"It's part and parcel of playing cricket."


Astle said the Black Caps had aimed at a total of around 250 when they discussed the situation at lunch.


"It's disappointing but if we knock over six wickets for about 80 runs tomorrow and the wicket gets a bit better we' re back in the game."


Fleming, who made 262 in the drawn second Test in Cape Town, was dropped by Jacques Kallis at second slip off Steyn when he was on 24 and went on to make top score of 46.


Fleming seemed unlucky to be given out caught behind off Ntini when it seemed the ball might have flicked his back leg rather than his bat.


Jacob Oram and James Franklin, who made centuries in the first and second Tests respectively, put on 36 for the eighth wicket before the last three wickets fell for one run.


The pitch proved almost impossible for batsmen in the first half hour. Both opening batsman were dismissed without scoring before Fleming scored the first runs in the sixth over.


Steyn struck with his second ball in the second over of the match when Jamie How edged an out-swinger to AB de Villiers at third slip. How was playing his first match of the series, replacing Peter Fulton, who had a back injury.


Ntini bowled Michael Papps in the fifth over, with Papps playing on to his stumps when the ball bounced and cut back sharply.


Styris was the third man to be out for nought when he edged Ntini and De Villiers dived to his left to take another catch at third slip.


Ntini went on to claim his fourth five-wicket haul of the home season, taking his total of wickets to 38 in six matches, but warned he hadn't yet reached his peak.


"I'm getting there, but I haven't reached that stage," he said.


Boeta Dippenaar became the third opening batsman to be dismissed without scoring during the day when he was bowled first ball by Chris Martin when the ball crashed into the stumps off his withdrawn bat.


But Smith and Amla, who made a century on his recall to the side in the second Test, put South Africa back on top.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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