Rarely can the first day of a Test match have been dominated so completely by one team.
Rarely can the first day of a Test match have been dominated so completely by one team. New Zealand's batsmen were felled with a regularity matched only by the rate at which South African milestones were reached as the hosts assumed unchallenged control on day one at Newlands.
On a sun-drenched day in Cape Town, South Africa celebrated the New Year in style as Vernon Philander picked up his eighth five-wicket haul in just his 13th Test match, Dale Steyn became the fourth South African to take 300 Test wickets and Jacques Kallis took his Test match run tally beyond 13,000.
Brendon McCullum called correctly at the toss and decided to bat first, but that was where New Zealand's success came to a shuddering halt. Before lunch had been called, they had fallen to their third-lowest Test score as well as the third lowest at Newlands, the visitors being unable even to surpass the 47 all out suffered by their Australian counterparts in December 2011.
The morning belonged almost entirely to Philander, whose opening spell brought five wickets for just seven runs as the South African quicks took a wrecking ball to the Black Cap line-up. Despite the cloudless blue skies, Philander was at his waspish best on a pitch that had a distinct green tinge, getting the new pill to move both ways at will.
Philander cruised to his five-for in just 25 deliveries, his figures an incredible 5 for 4 when he found his fifth wicket and all of his runs having been conceded with one slightly over-pitched delivery that Kane Williamson drove elegantly to the wide mid-off boundary. By the end of his six-over spell, Philander's figures had swelled slightly to 6-3-7-5, his average at this ground standing at a handy 9.73.
There was, however, still time for Steyn to take his 300th Test wicket with a fizzing outswinger that pitched on middle and sent Doug Bracewell's off stump cartwheeling back towards the wicketkeeper. Steyn joined Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald and Makhaya Ntini in South Africa's 300 club, and in reaching the milestone in his 61st Test drew level with such prestigious names as Richard Hadlee and Malcolm Marshall, becoming the joint third fastest - after Dennis Lillee and Muttiah Muralitharan - to reach the mark.
The Black Cap death rattle had begun in earnest when Chris Martin ambled to the crease with the score a pitiful 45 for 9. He had the chance of a lifetime to top-score for New Zealand in a Test match, with Williamson's 13 to aim for, but could only waft sightlessly at three deliveries before Daniel Flynn top-edged a pull to bring the carnage to a merciful end.
With South Africa's openers called out to negotiate a tricky 10-minute period before lunch, New Zealand finally had cause to celebrate as a shuffling Smith was caught in front of his stumps by Bracewell. It was there that their brief respite ended and the window for a New Zealand counterattack was swiftly slammed shut by Amla.
Cruising at close to a-run-a-ball for the majority of his innings, Amla was especially effective in the arc between mid off and cover point, moving either forward or back and caressing the ball off the middle of the bat with a flash of his supple wrists. Quickly overtaking the more reticent Petersen, he reached his fifty in the 17th over and looked set for many more before he walked across his stumps to Franklin and missed a full one to be dismissed lbw against the run of play.
Petersen continued his patient accumulation unchanged after Amla's dismissal, while Kallis gave a hint of things to come when he stepped out of his crease in the last over before the interval to loft Patel imperiously back over his head for four.
Kallis meted out particularly harsh treatment to the offspinner in the final session, slog-sweeping him for two monstrous sixes and reverse-sweeping with impunity as he marched towards a 57th Test fifty. On his way there, he became just the fourth player in history to pass 13,000 runs in Test cricket and a packed holiday Newlands crowd gave him a warm standing ovation.
With Kallis batting like a colossus a century appeared a virtual certainty, but his knock was ended at 60 when Trent Boult conjured up a wicket out of nowhere with one that took the outside edge of a driving bat and was easily pouched by BJ Watling behind the stumps.
All that was left was for Petersen, who hadn't changed gears - and indeed, hadn't needed to - all afternoon, to bring up a well-deserved century. He eventually reached the mark, after some hesitation, with five minutes left in the day's play. His ton capped an almost perfect day in the field for South Africa, their success in this Test now a virtual certainty.