South Africa bowled out New Zealand for just 45 in the first Test on Wednesday, confirming their status as the world’s number one side in a demolition that saw Dale Steyn take his 300th wicket in the five day game.
But Steyn’s two for 18, in which he reached the landmark 300 by bowling Doug Bracewell for two, was overshadowed by a devastating spell from Vernon Philander, who ended the first innings with figures of five for seven.
Philander’s achievement was all the more remarkable as he had been an injury doubt going into the match.
Morne Morkel picked up the three remaining New Zealand wickets for 14, as only Kane Williamson managed to reach double figures (13) during their capitulation in just 19.2 overs.
Steyn’s achievement in his 61st Test means that only Australia’s Dennis Lillee and Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka have reached the milestone in fewer matches. Lillee managed it in 56 Tests and Muralitharan in 58.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement,” said South African captain Graeme Smith.
“He’s our go-to guy. He’s got there really quickly. He always seems to make an impact for us. He’s the type of guy as a captain he’s an asset to have. You can throw him the ball and you know he’ll make a play for you somewhere during the Test match.
“When he gets that bit between his teeth you really start to see things happening.”
New Zealand won the toss and decided to bat on a pitch which appeared to have a good covering of grass, which proved to help the bowlers in the early stages of the match.
South Africa fielded the team that won the third and final Test against Australia in Perth last month, when they confirmed their ranking as the number one team in the world.
Eighth-ranked New Zealand were led for the first time in a Test match by Brendon McCullum. The Kiwis have been hit by injuries and the withdrawal of former captain and star batsman Ross Taylor.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 45 (Kane Williamson 13; Vernon Philander 5 for 7, Morne Morkel 3 for 14, Dale Steyn 2 for 18) lead South Africa 3 for 1 (Hashim Amla 2*; Doug Bracewell 1 for 2) by 42 runs