HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) " Colin de Grandhomme and Matt Henry took four wickets as New Zealand's depleted bowling attack shared honors with South Africa's powerful batting lineup Saturday on the rain-affected opening day of the third cricket test.
At stumps, after only 41 overs had been bowled around intermittent rain, South Africa was 123-4 with Faf du Plessis 33 not out and Temba Bavuma 13 not out.
For the first time in five years, New Zealand went into a test without both of its senior fast bowlers, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who are injured.
In their absence Henry " playing in this series for the first time " shared the new ball with medium pacer de Grandhomme and South Africa-born Neil Wagner reverted to the role of third seamer that he often peforms behind Southee and Boult.
The trio bowled consistently well throughout a day limited by intermittent rain to only 41 overs, capturing regular wickets to prevent South Africa from establishing the substantial partnership it needed to fully capitalize on its decision to bat on winning the toss. The seamers bowled all but two of the overs bowled on day one.
Proteas captain du Plessis still has the chance to justify his decision as the senior batsman at the crease. He admitted at the toss that the decision to bat first was a " "a 50-50 call" " on a hard-to-predict pitch which had a piebald appearance.
In the two one-day internationals South Africa and New Zealand played at Seddon Park earlier this month, the ball turned prodigiously. The pitch prepared for the test didn't have the appearance of a turner, looking brownish-gray with tufts of grass which were the survivors of a ravaging disease which had otherwise denuded he wicket block.
It was also softish after a preparation disturbed by inclement weather.
The New Zealanders were able to find just enough seam movement or swing in humid conditions to Saturday to make batting difficult.
Amla featured in the best stand of the day with J.P. Duminy which added 59 for the third wicket after Henry and de Grandhomme struck early to leave South Africa 5-2.
Henry first removed Theunis de Bruyn for a duck on his test debut. The regular middle-order batsman was thrust into the opening role in his first test as South Africa addressed the form slump of regular opener Stephen Cook.
De Bruyn lasted five balls before Henry, who had regularly tempted him outside off stump, encouraged him to play a slightly wider delivery which he edged to Tom Latham at second slip.
Elgar lasted 12 balls before he shouldered arms to a ball he expected to bounce over his stumps and which, without deviating from its course, collided with off stump.
J.P. Duminy was the beneficiary of New Zealand's dysfunctional relationship with the Decision Review System, twice surviving lbw appeals before falling to Henry close to lunch. He mis-timed a ball which reared at him unexpectedly and which, in attempting a pull shot, he top-edged to Jeetan Patel at fine leg.
Amla rebuilt the innings with his 32nd half century in tests but he was only just past the milestone before was also undone by the mysteries of the pitch. He sought to turn a ball from de Grandomme through midwicket but misjudged its lenth and it ducked under his bat to take the stumps.
Rain finally chased players from the field near the drinks break in the second session and they were unable to return.
South Africa, who lead the three-match series 1-0, need only a draw for a series victory.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings