WELLINGTON, March 8 Seamer Neil Wagner grabbed two wickets in one over as New Zealand reduced South Africa to 63-3 at lunch on the opening day of the first test at University Oval in Dunedin on Wednesday.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who had won the toss and elected to bat, was on 18, while opening batsman Dean Elgar (36 not out) had partially resurrected their innings at the break.
Du Plessis, however, was probably ruing his last second decision at the toss, having made the call when he saw the hosts had included spinners Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner in the side at the expense of pace spearhead Tim Southee.
The decision to leave Southee out appeared to be a mistake in the early overs as Wagner got no assistance from the northern end of the ground in his opening two-over spell.
Captain Kane Williamson immediately changed things up by introducing Patel in the sixth over, with the offspinner proving difficult to get away as he extracted bounce and turn off the pitch.
Paceman Trent Boult was also finally building into some rhythm and got a delivery to swing back into right-handed opener Stephen Cook, who offered no shot and was given out lbw for three to leave the hosts 10-1 in the ninth over.
With Patel and Boult continuing to build pressure against Elgar and Hashim Amla, South Africa were 16-1 when drinks were taken after 16 overs.
Williamson then reintroduced Wagner from the city end and he struck immediately to remove the dangerous Amla for one.
Four balls later and he had JP Duminy caught at first slip by Ross Taylor, also for one, from a rising delivery that brushed a glove to leave the visitors in trouble at 22-3.
Elgar and du Plessis, however, managed to see South Africa, who recalled fast bowler Morne Morkel after more than a year out of test cricket, through to the break without any further loss.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)