Kallis, South Africa dominate on day one
Jacques Kallis fell eight runs short of a history-making century as South Africa reached 279 for four Wednesday on the first day of the first cricket Test against New Zealand.
Kallis continued a prolific run of recent individual scoring, making 92 before falling to a catch off the second new ball shortly before stumps.
His innings was the mainstay of South Africa's total and left it in a controlling position after a day on which both teams toiled on a pitch which lacked pace or bounce.
Kallis was bidding for a rare place in cricket history as he passed his 28th half century in 76 Tests and closed on his 16th hundred.
The century would have been his fifth in consecutive Tests after his dominating form against the West Indies earlier this year. Only Sir Donald Bradman, who scored centuries in six straight Tests for Australia, has passed 100 in more consecutive matches. Bradman's run was interrupted by injury.
Kallis accumulated 712 runs at an average of 178 in South Africa's four-Test home series against the West Indies in December and January.
With Wednesday's innings, compiled over 239 minutes with 11 fours and three sixes, Kallis took his aggregate in his last five tests to 804 at an average of 160.
He shared partnerships of 132 in 148 minutes for the third wicket with Jacques Rudolph, who made 72, and 60 in 86 minutes with Gary Kirsten, who was 31 not out in his 99th Test at stumps. Kirsten was batting with nightwatchman Paul Adams, who was not out on seven.
Kallis was most prolific in the second session, when the ball was older and when he and Rudolph put on 106 runs in 120 minutes. But he became frustrated against the second new ball as Daryl Tuffey and Jacob Oram pinned him down. His frustration led to his first rash shot, an ungainly hook, which saw a ball from Oram carry to Tuffey at fine leg.
After two productive sessions in which South Africa scored 101 runs for the loss of two wickets and 106 without loss, the final session produced only 72 runs at the cost of Rudolph and Kallis. After South African captain Graeme Smith won the toss and batted, the day was always going to be a long one for the home team. The Hamilton pitch was bare and soft on top and, from the first over, gave little help or encouragement to the seam bowlers. Spinner Daniel Vettori came into the attack in only the 13th over and gave his captain heart when he claimed the wickets of Smith, for 25, and Herschelle Gibbs for 40.
"It was good, hard toil out there," said New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming. "They played very well and created partnerships which is what you have to do on a wicket like this. The second new ball was certainly important and to get Kallis at that stage was good for us. Otherwise there was not much pace-wise in the wicket and only slow turn."
Vettori's two early wickets gave New Zealand an early hope of constraining South Africa.
Smith fell to an uncharacteristically rash shot, advancing down the wicket and skying the ball from the bottom of the bat to Oram at midwicket.
Gibbs, who hit six fours and a six, also fell to a poor shot. He misjudged the pace of a short delivery from Vettori and cut the ball directly to Scott Styris at short cover.
Rudolph and Kallis led a recovery from 79 for two in the 27th over to 211 for three in the 64th. Rudolph reached his third half century in 12 tests from 101 balls and Kallis followed immediately from 79 balls with three sixes and six fours.
Rudolph gave New Zealand's debuting wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum his first catch in test matches. He finely edged a delivery from Styris and was caught by McCullum diving athletically to his right.
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