The first Test between South Africa and New Zealand ended in a predictable draw on Tuesday after poor ground conditions prevented any play for a third consecutive day.

Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth, the on-field umpires, took the decision to call off the match around 30 minutes before the scheduled start of play on the final morning.

No play took place after rain fell during the lunch break on the second day on Saturday, when New Zealand was on 15/2 in reply to South Africa’s first-innings total of 263.

Rain fell throughout the rest of the day and into Sunday morning and further play was ruled out on the last three days because of the wet outfield and soft underfoot conditions.

On the second day, Dale Steyn turned in an excellent show in his first Test since December 2015, putting New Zealand under pressure after South Africa was bowled out.

Steyn showed that none of his old magic had been lost in his injury-enforced absence. He had failed to complete the only two Tests he had played in among South Africa’s last eight matches because of groin and shoulder injuries, but he bowled with control to even the scales for the home side after its batting performance.

He first had Tom Latham edging to Hashim Amla at first slip, the left-hand batsman drawn into playing a stroke thanks to the probing line and departing for four. He followed that up with a full-length inswinger that trapped Martin Guptill lbw for seven.

Steyn had figures of 6-4-3-2 when the rain came – an indication of not just his incisiveness but also his control. Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson were at the crease when the last bit of action in the game took place.

South Africa’s innings had been propped up by Amla’s 53, but that was the highest individual score for them.

New Zealand’s bowlers had done a splendid job of breaking partnerships and halting momentum with wickets in clusters, which kept South Africa down to a first-innings total lower than it would have liked.

The total it finally got to was largely down to Kagiso Rabada swinging his bat around near the end. Rabada and Dane Piedt added 27 runs for the last wicket despite New Zealand taking the second new ball, which enabled Tim Southee and Trent Boult to gain appreciable movement in the overcast conditions.

Rabada, who was dropped by Southee at third slip off Boult when he had 16, battled his way to an unbeaten 32 before Piedt was last man out, caught behind off Boult for nine.

Boult ended with 3/52, while Neil Wagner had 3/47.

The second Test begins in Centurion on Saturday.


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