Hashim Amla made it hard to believe he had an average of just 18.62 in Tests in Durban before Friday as he charged to 42 not out and led South Africa to 94 for two at lunch on the first day of the first Test against New Zealand at Kingsmead.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, leading for the first time in a Test as a stand-in for the injured AB de Villiers, won the toss and elected to bat first under heavily overcast skies, hoping the dew on the outfield that had delayed the start by about 30 minutes would make the ball wet and kill the swing for the New Zealand bowlers.
And it was all going to plan for most of the first hour as openers Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar went to 33 without loss. Both were dismissed within the next three overs though, failing to build on solid starts, leaving the Proteas on a precarious 41 for two.
Amla came to the crease having scored just 298 runs in 16 previous Test innings at Kingsmead, but played with enormous confidence as he rattled off nine boundaries and scored at marginally better than a run-a-ball.
The impressive Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell were the men to take wickets for New Zealand, with left-arm seamer Boult having Cook caught behind for 20 with an excellent delivery that the batsman had to play, but which moved away just enough to find the edge of the bat.
Elgar did not look as assured as Cook and scored 19 before he pushed hard at a delivery from Bracewell that was well outside off stump and should have been left, edging a comfortable catch to Martin Guptill at second slip.
JP Duminy was pushed up the order to maintain the left-hand/right-hand batting pair and had reached 13 not out at the break.
Boult bowled a superb, nagging opening spell of eight overs on the trot, conceding just eight runs and getting the first wicket.
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