Welington, New Zealand - New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum took advantage of second and third chances to top score with 56 in his team's total of 253-9 batting first in Saturday's opening One-Dayer against South Africa.

McCullum was twice given out, including to the first ball of his innings, and twice had those decisions reversed by replays, allowing him to play a key role in New Zealand's low-key batting effort.

Kane Williamson also scored a half century while James Franklin and opener Rob Nicol made decent contributions, but the home team was pegged back by the South Africa bowling attack, with Lonwabo Tsotsobe recording the best figures of 2-41 from his 10 overs.

Coming in at first drop, McCullum was judged lbw first ball when he played no shot to a delivery from Tsotsobe and was struck on the pad. He challenged the decision and replays showed the ball bouncing over the stumps.

McCullum had moved on to 3 and New Zealand was 43-1 when he was given out caught by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers off the bowling of left-arm spinner Robin Peterson. Again, McCullum called for the review and again replays proved he was not out.

McCullum went on to reach his 21st half century in One-Day internationals from 62 balls and with two fours and two sixes. He put on 79 for New Zealand's third wicket with Williamson before being caught by Peterson off the bowling of Jacques Kallis in the 30th over when New Zealand was 137-3.

Williamson then became New Zealand most effective run-gatherer, giving some impetus to an innings which was otherwise restricted by accurate and varied South African bowling.

He reached his half century from 59 balls with four fours, before falling in the 41st over when New Zealand was 194-5.

New Zealand was unable to break the shackles or fully justify McCullum's decision to bat on winning the toss. Even in the batting powerplay, which was forced on it in the 35th over after it had found no chance to take it earlier, New Zealand went almost four overs without hitting a boundary.

New Zealand hoped to take the powerplay with big-hitting Jesse Ryder still at the wicket but he played a poor shot and was caught on the boundary just before the powerplay was taken.

Peterson bowled superbly, completing his 10 overs with 2-45; Kallis also took 2-45 from his seven overs. Morne Morkel, who bowled effectively at the death, took 2-49 from nine.

Dale Steyn, in his first international in almost a month, swung the ball at pace, taking 1-37 from nine overs and suggesting he will be a handful for the New Zealand batsmen in the three test series that starts next month. Steyn, Kallis and Graeme Smith all missed the Twenty20 series but returned to the Proteas lineup on Saturday for the first of three one-day internationals. - Sapa-AP