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18-Feb-2022 16:29:00 GMT
NZ vs SA, 1st Test - Christchurch, day 2

New Zealand in firm command after Nicholls century

South Africa 34 for 3 (Bavuma 22*, Southee 2-20) and 95 (Hamza 25, Henry 7-23) trail New Zealand 482 (Nicholls 105, Blundell 96, Henry 58*, Olivier 3-100) by 353 runs

Christchurch: It was a happy homecoming for Henry Nicholls who scored his eighth Test hundred and put New Zealand on the verge of winning in the first match of the series against South Africa.

Having put South Africa on the backfoot after dismissing them for 95 in the first innings on day one, New Zealand put themselves firmly in the driver seat to win the first Test, thanks to a hundred from Henry Nicholls and fifties Tom Blundell and Matt Henry.

They finished their innings on 482 all out on day two, taking a massive 287-run lead before picking up three wickets to leave the Proteas reeling at 34/3 at stumps.

Starting the day at an overnight score of 116/3, Henry Nicholls and nightwatchman Neil Wagner continued to pile on the Proteas misery. Wagner, who finished day one on 2 off 12, took the attack to Kagiso Rabada in the second over of the day, smashing South Africa's lead pacer for three consecutive fours.

Wagner brought up the 50-run partnership in style with a maximum off Stuurman and dished out the same treatment to the debutant a few overs later. However, Wagner (49) fell agonizingly short of a second Test fifty as he picked out the deep square leg with the flick.

Daryl Mitchell joined Nicholls at the crease and took New Zealand to lunch at 235/4, adding 119 runs at close to 4.5 runs an over.

Right after the break, South Africa struck through Stuurman, who dismissed Mitchell to pick up his maiden Test wicket. At the other end, Nicholls reached his eighth Test hundred in front of his home crowd but couldn't make it a big one, with Duanne Olivier drawing the outside edge to second slip.

Colin de Grandhomme, making his first Test appearance since the World Test Championship final in June 2021, decided to counterattack after the two quick wickets. With Blundell solid at one end, de Grandhomme smashed a breezy 42-ball 45 which included five fours and a maximum with the part-time spin of Aiden Markram bringing his downfall.

New Zealand bettered their first session, scoring 121 runs in their second as they headed into tea at 356/7 with a lead of over 250.

The hosts lost Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee after the break. Between the two wickets, Blundell got to his fifty and was kept company by Matt Henry. Having already stamped his authority with a seven-wicket haul in the first innings, Henry showed what he was capable of with the bat in hand as smashed the bowlers to all parts.

With Blundell closing in on a hundred, Henry curbed his game but managed to get to a fifty of his own. Blundell, however, fell four runs short of a century skipper Dean Elgar successfully reviewed a caught behind. New Zealand finished their innings on 482 and a massive lead of 387.

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