This was South Africa’s lowest total in 23 tests
Tea South Africa 95 all out (Hamza 25, Henry 7-23) vs New Zealand
Matt Henry’s career-best 7 for 23 including three wickets in the same over, saw South Africa dismissed for 95 – their lowest total in 23 Tests and lowest against New Zealand on the opening morning in Christchurch. No South African batter scored more than Zubayr Hamza’s 25 and the highest partnership was 33 between Hamza and Kyle Verreynne to mark the first time they have been bowled out for under 100 batting first since 1932.
Henry, who has not played in New Zealand’s last five tests and came in as a replacement for Trent Boult, ran through South Africa’s top order as the hosts made full use of bowler-friendly conditions on the opening morning in Christchurch. With swing through the air and plenty of seam movement on offer, South Africa’s top four were all dismissed for 15 runs or fewer to leave them reeling at 44 for 4. Henry then returned after lunch to claim four more, and leave South Africa shellshocked.
Henry got rid of captain Dean Elgar off the 10th ball of the morning when the South Africa captain reached away from his body to drive an away-seamer and got a thick edge to third slip. Tim Southee, who had opened the bowling at the other end, took a diving catch to his left to dismiss Elgar for 1.
That left debutant Sarel Erwee, opening in the side because Keegan Petersen could not make the trip after contracting Covid-19, with the out-of-form Aiden Markram now moved to No.3. Erwee left well to start but grew more tentative as Henry moved closer to off stump and New Zealand thought they had him when Southee got a delivery to straighten from off stump and thud into Erwee’s back pad. They reviewed but Hawkeye showed the ball was missing off.
But New Zealand did not wait too long to send Erwee back. Three balls later, Kyle Jamieson, bowling first change, forced Erwee to play at a short-of-length delivery and he edged to Daryl Mitchell at first slip.
South Africa were 22 for 2 after 10 overs and scored five runs in the next six overs before Markram smacked Henry through gully to suggest he may have settled. But when he opted for a back-foot drive in the next over, he edged behind a Henry delivery that seamed away. Markram has not scored more than 16 runs in his last nine Test innings, dating back to June 2021. Four balls later, Henry also accounted for van der Dussen, who was squared up and edged to Southee, who took the catch to his right at third slip.
South Africa included an extra specialist batter in their XI and would have been pleased to have one at 37 for 4. Hamza made his comeback after last playing Test cricket two years ago against England and was welcomed with an inswinger from Jamieson that he inside-edged to long leg. He made it to lunch alongside Temba Bavuma with the score on 44 for 4.
Bavuma flicked Southee to mid-wicket on the last ball of the first over after the break before Hamza and Verryenne attempted to steady the innings. Hamza played two convincing shots – a pull and a drive, both off Southee but then hit a ball straight back to Henry, who could not hold on to the chance. Henry had the last laugh when Hamza prodded at a back of a length ball without moving his feet and was caught behind.
That was Henry’s second session warm-up. His main act came two overs later when he struck Verreynne on the knee roll with a full ball and New Zealand reviewed. Hawkeye showed the ball would go on to hit legstump. That gave Henry his first Test five-for. Four balls after that, Henry had Kagiso Rabada caught behind and the next ball, debutant Glenton Stuurman was dismissed the same way, as he struggled to play a back of a length ball that angled across him and nicked his thumb on the way through to Tom Blundell. South Africa were 88 for 8 and then 88 for 9 and Henry was on a hat trick.
He didn’t get there and it was Wagner who ended the innings, with Duanne Olivier caught at second slip.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent