Wellington: A 79-run stand by Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson propelled New Zealand to 253 for nine in the first one-day international against South Africa in Wellington on Saturday.

On a benign wicket at Westpac Stadium, New Zealand struggled to gain momentum in the early stages, creeping to 75 for two in the first 20 overs before McCullum and Williamson began to pick up the pace.

The next 75 runs took less than 13 overs but the loss of McCullum, and the quick departure of big-hitting Jesse Ryder (6) soon after put the brakes on the New Zealand charge.

McCullum had a charmed life and was saved three times by television replays on his way to 56 off 67 balls including two boundaries and two sixes.

The New Zealand skipper was given out first ball but the decision was overturned on appeal when replays showed the Lonwabo Tsotsobe delivery would have bounced over the stumps.

On three, McCullum survived a caught behind appeal off Robin Peterson when the replay showed there was no edge and on 11 South Africa claimed a leg-before dismissal and this time the replay showed there was an edge. But his run of luck came to an end when he attempted to crack Jacques Kallis out of the park and was caught at deep point by a diving Peterson.

Williamson, who was content to look for the singles, appeared intent on batting through the innings and reached his 55 in 69 balls when he had an uncharacteristic slash at Tsotsobe and was caught behind.

Rob Nicol made 30 at the top of the innings when Dale Steyn was producing exaggerated swing while James Franklin added 32 in the middle of the innings.

But elsewhere the New Zealand batsmen were unable to attack the South African bowlers and when Nathan McCullum his a six in the final over it ended a run of four overs when only singles were scored.

Tsotsobe was the most economical of the South African bowlers with two for 31 and Peterson and Kallis both finished with two for 45.

(Agencies)