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Nicholls knock inspires late NZ revival

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/03/2017 Cathy Walshe

Inspired by Henry Nicholls' maiden Test century, the Black Caps have struck late to grab the upper hand on the first day of the second Test against South Africa in Wellington.

Dismissed for 268 after losing the toss, the New Zealanders roared back into contention in the last half-hour of play, leaving the Proteas reeling at 24-2 at stumps.

Tim Southee picked up the scalp of opener Stephen Cook, while Colin de Grandhomme accounted for Dean Elgar, both batsmen caught at second slip by Jimmy Neesham.

But it was Nicholls' disciplined effort which proved key on an absorbing day at the Basin Reserve.

He brought up his fifth Test half-century off 66 balls, his hundred coming in 150 balls and including 15 fours.

The 25-year-old left-hander amassed 118 runs before JP Duminy grabbed the first in his four-wicket haul, pushing through a faster ball which eluded Nicholls and hit the top of off stump.

Afterwards, Nicholls admitted to some relief in making three figures after falling two short against Bangladesh earlier this year in Christchurch.

"It was nice to get the milestone and contribute to a team total," he said.

"I had a bit of luck in the 90s but that's the way it goes sometimes. I was pretty happy with how I went about my business today."

Nicholls came to the wicket late in the morning, with the Black Caps teetering at 21-3 after losing opener Tom Latham (8), skipper Kane Williamson (2) and Neil Broom without scoring.

"They were bowling really well - I think if you look at the dismissals, there was just some really good new-ball bowling and that's what you get when you come up against one of the best countries in the world," he said.

"But I was looking to be positive and decisive and, today, I was probably more so than I have been in the past."

Nicholls and BJ Watling compiled a 116-run record sixth-wicket partnership against South Africa, but the Kiwis lost three quick wickets for the addition of just five runs following Nicholls' dismissal.

Part-time bowler Duminy was responsible for two of them, and finished more than happy with his haul of 4-47.

"It's something I've been working on for a period of time but, unfortunately, I haven't reaped any rewards," he said.

"Today was one of those days I got an opportunity to carry on. The key is to try and get a wicket in your first three overs, to try and get to keep the ball.

"I was pretty pleased with how it came out today - I think it comes down to just being consistent with trying to hit a certain area and, with that, things will happen for you."

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