New Zealand dominated the first day of their Test series against a severely weakened South Africa, Kane Williamson and Rachin Ravindra dousing a bright early start for the tourists with a double-century stand.

The Proteas fielded six debutants, with Cricket South Africa choosing to prioritise the SA20 competition, which clashes with the New Zealand Tests. This is also South Africa’s first series since the retirement of opener Dean Elgar. Their XI came into the game with 37 Test caps combined. Williamson, by himself, had 96.

Despite this, the away side started brightly, taking two wickets with the new ball. Tshepo Moreki joined the illustrious club of bowlers to take a wicket with their first ball in Test cricket, moving the ball back into Devon Conway and trapping the New Zealand opener plumb in front.

Dane Paterson, recalled after an absence of more than four years, was the other to strike early. The 34-year-old nicked off Tom Latham, Clyde Fortuin taking the catch behind the stumps. The Black Caps found themselves 38-2.

However, they were unable to find a way through Ravindra and Williamson, who batted out the rest of the day. Each made a century, with Williamson’s his 30th in Test cricket, and Ravindra’s his first.

Williamson’s innings continued a stunning run of form, even by his lofty standards. He averages 76 in Test cricket since the Covid-19 pandemic, with nine hundreds in 17 Tests in that time. Only three batters – Steve Smith, Matthew Hayden and Sachin Tendulkar – have needed fewer innings to reach 30 Test hundreds.

Ravindra’s hundred came off the back of a stellar Cricket World Cup campaign, in which he made three centuries as New Zealand fell at the semi-final stage. Having been utilised as a bowling all-rounder previously, this is the first time Ravindra is batting inside the top six in Test cricket.

The series, part of the World Test Championship, is being played for the Tangiwai Shield, to commemorate the 1953 Tangiwai train disaster, in which 151 people died. These included the fiancee of Bob Blair, the New Zealand seamer who was playing a Test against South Africa at the time.