MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand (AP) — Kane Williamson scored his 30th test century and Rachin Ravindra his first as New Zealand reached 258-2 by stumps on the first day of the first test against South Africa on Sunday when runs at times flowed like treacle.
Williamson was 112 not out at stumps and Ravindra 118 in an unbroken partnership of 219.
For much of the day, scoring had been difficult. New Zealand scored 65 runs from 25 overs in the first session and 60 runs from 27 overs in the second as a novice South Africa attack produced a spirited performance and tied down the New Zealand batters.
The payoff for that hard graft came in the extended last session when New Zealand scored 133 from 34 overs, bumping up their run rate for the day to three runs an over.
Both players at times were frustrated by the slow pace of scoring. Williamson adapted and persevered through an innings which had lasted almost 6-1/2 hours by stumps. Ravindra had a knack of picking out fielders when he played forcefully but he showed maturity to concentrate and carry on.
Both players gave catching chances: Williamson at 47 when he was dropped by Edward Moore from the bowling of Ruan de Swardt and Ravindra by Daunne Olivier off the same bowler when he was 80.
Otherwise they negotiated the day with patience and gradually put New Zealand in command.
Williamson played a characteristic innings, showing again why he is the top-ranked batter in test cricket. He was balanced, composed and patient, prepared to endure in the morning, then through the afternoon when runs were scarce.
He was more forceful in the final session, reaching his century with his 13th boundary from 241 balls. It was his fourth century against South Africa and his 17th in New Zealand.
Kiwi fans have waited a long time to see Ravindra realize his massive potential and produce such and innings in tests. He made his debut three years ago and his previous highest score in three test matches was 18.
It was serendiptitous that he batted on Saturday with Williamson, who was such a calming influence and source of sound advice.
Ravindra came to the crease when New Zealand was 39-2 in the 17th over, with the home side under considerable pressure. He dug in and had batted more than five hours by stumps in an innings which contained 13 fours and a six.
South Africa’s lineup contained six new caps, including captain Neil Brand who won the toss on debut and chose to bat. Its novice attack, stripped of almost all of its big names who remained at home two play in a Twenty20 competition, rose to the occasion.
Right-armer Tshepo Moreki dimissed Devon Conway lbw with his first ball in test cricket and Dane Paterson, in his third test, dismissed Tom Latham (20) for his fourth test wicket.
Williamson and Ravindra steadied New Zealand and guided it to lunch at 65-2.
Williamson’s 50 came from 144 balls and Ravindra’s from 120 deliveries. They paced each other for most of the day, Ravindra finally drawing level with Williamson at 96. He went ahead of his partner briefly but Williamson reached his century first with a characteristic pull shot.
Ravindra had to wait briefly on 99 before reaching his maiden century, raising his helmet and his bat to his teammates and the crowd. Williamson embraced him and fans rose to their feet to applaud what may have been a coming of age.
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