Paarl – South Africa had to fight all the way to a score of 208 in 46.2 overs after being put in to bat on a difficult pitch in the first one-day international against New Zealand at Paarl on Saturday.

Debutant bowler Mitchell McClenaghan took four wickets and could have had another but was let down by sloppy ground fielding. Off-spinner Kane Williamson gave him good support with a haul of four wickets of his own. South Africa might count themselves lucky to get to 208, with Graeme Smith was dropped on two and Quinton de Kock on nine to regulation catches in the slips which a New Zealand team of the past would not have let through.

It was left to Rory Kleinveldt, coming in at number nine to score 26 off 20 balls, with three superb fours to push South Africa above 200.

New Zealand were able to take wickets at regular intervals and South Africa were never able to establish the base from which to launch an attack in the later stages of the innings.

Only Faf Du Plessis stood firm with a score of 57 off 72 balls, a score which included just three fours. He shared a useful stand of 49 for the fourth wicket with Colin Ingram, who was looking confident for his 29. But then Ingram top-edged a delivery from Williamson which was superbly taken by Nathan McCullum as it swirled and wavered over midwicket.

McCullum was also responsible for the dismissal of Quinton de Kock, taking a sharp catch low down at mid-on to leave South Africa struggling at 119/5. Ryan McLaren scored 33 off just 39 balls in a stand of 59 for the sixth wicket.

It all looked so promising in the first five overs, despite the difficulties of the low slow pitch. With the aid of the dropped catch and some misfields, Hashim Amla and Smith were able to put on 25 runs. But New Zealand then tightened up and in the next five, only five runs were scored, for the loss of two wickets.

Amla was trapped lbw by Kyle Mills. Graeme Smith followed soon after as he tried to work a delivery from McClenaghan to leg.

AB de Villiers soon followed in his footsteps, another lbw victim to McClenaghan, making his ODI debut, for seven.

Colin Ingram and Du Plessis were then able to pick up the pace until Ingram’s rash shot ended a good stand. After McLaren was caught off a thin edge off Williamson by wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum, the tail was exposed. Du Plessis was given little support until he holed out at wide long-on off Williamson.

Only Kleinveldt stopped the rot but even he could not see out the full quota of overs. – Sapa