Your essential guide to the fifth ODI between the Proteas and the Black Caps on Saturday.
This is the pressure game the Proteas wanted. With very little pressure on them throughout their 12-match unbeaten run, the side have now lost two of their last three matches, and that has set up a series decider against the Black Caps.
Only four matches remain before the Proteas take on Sri Lanka in their Champions Trophy opener, and there are a few cracks that are starting to get exposed. Contributions across the top six have been lacking in this series, especially from JP Duminy and David Miller. Duminy is simply not providing what’s required at No 4 or No 5 at the moment, while Miller has produced scores of 28, 3 and 1 since his century in the second ODI against Sri Lanka. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock are constantly going out to soft dismissals, which will be cause for concern.
As for the bowling department, when Kagiso Rabada isn’t firing, and when Imran Tahir gets found out, the likes of Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris tend to leak runs, and Dwaine Pretorius was exposed on the slow deck in Hamilton on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, fighting it out for the series is a situation the Proteas needed in order to mentally prepare themselves for the high-pressure games that will come in the Champions Trophy. The series, as well as the No 1 ODI ranking, is on the line for the visitors.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Quinton de Kock: The 24-year-old sets high standards for himself, and it’s not as if he’s out of form by any means, but he will want to correct the way in which he’s been going out recently. He’s been caught in 14 of the last 15 international innings he’s played, which goes some way to understanding his visible frustration every time he goes out. For someone who’s made a name for himself for converting half-centuries to hundreds, he’ll want to rectify the fact that he’s failed to convert five of the last six times he’s passed fifty. A big knock isn’t too far away for a player of his talent.
Matt Henry: There’s a vacancy for a third seamer in the lineup at the moment, and so far no one has stepped forward. Henry is the seventh best ODI bowler in the world, but hasn’t played an ODI since December last year, as he was dumped from the team for bowling too erratically. He’s been drafted back into the side for this match, and after being left out of the Test side, he will be keen to prove a point and book that spot on the plane to England in June.
The Proteas are unlikely to tinker too much, but birthday boy Andile Phehlukwayo is fit again and will likely return, with Pretorius or Morris likely to sit out. Farhaan Behardien has been unfortunate not to get a run around, but the Proteas need Duminy and Miller to play as many games as possible now.
With the Kiwis unlikely to play two spinners again, that leaves an opening for Henry to come back in, in what will otherwise be an unchanged side.
New Zealand: 1 Dean Brownlie, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Jamie Neesham, 6 Luke Ronchi, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult
South Africa: 1 Quinton de Kock, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Chris Morris/Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Andile Phehlukwayo, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Imran Tahir
New Zealand: WLWLW
South Africa: LWLWW
– New Zealand have played nine ODI series against South Africa and only won two. The first time they beat the Proteas was at home in 2004 and the second was in South Africa in 2013.
– The Black Caps have played 73 matches at Eden Park and won 34, lost 34. Two have ended in a tie and three in a no result.
– AB de Villiers averages 203 against the Black Caps in New Zealand. He has only been dismissed three times in 11 innings, two of those dismissals took place in this series.
– De Villiers is on course to be the highest visiting scorer in an ODI series against New Zealand, he is currently on 239 runs. Rahul Dravid has the most runs by a visiting batsman in five matches with 309 (1998-99) against the Black Caps.
– De Villiers (968) needs 32 more runs to reach the 1000-run mark against the Kiwis. Herschelle Gibbs (1042), Gary Kirsten (1180) and Jacques Kallis (1449) are the only other South Africans to do so. He also has the highest average (64.53) by a South African against NZ.
– The highest score at Eden Park was 340-5 when New Zealand chased down Australia’s total of 336-4 to claim a five-wicket victory in the second ODI in 2007.
– Marcus Stoinis became the highest scorer at Eden Park when he hit 146 not out against New Zealand. This came in Australia’s six-run loss against the Black Caps in the first ODI on 30 January 2017. Jacques Kallis (100) is the highest South African scorer at the ground and the only player from SA to hit a century at Eden Park.
Faf du Plessis speaks about the final ODI: ‘Really looking forward to it, it’s a nice challenge for us as a team. Don’t think this series has seen the best cricket we are capable of, so tomorrow is an opportunity to play in a big pressure game.’
Tim Southee on the performances of both sides: ‘I don’t think either side has played the perfect game. There have been patches of brilliance, but not a complete performance.’
De Villiers expects a high-pressure game: ‘There’s a big final to play and there’s a lot at stake. It’s a big pressure game and it would be great for us to come through at Eden Park. We won the T20 there and I think we’ve played some fantastic cricket in this series, but we haven’t really hit our straps yet, so hopefully it will happen in this match.’
De Villiers on the conditions for Imran Tahir: ‘Eden Park’s wicket is a bit quicker; Immi likes to bowl on quicker wickets.’
Mike Hesson on Tahir: ‘We’ve respected him as a threat, also bearing in mind if we deny him wickets he does go searching a little bit and creates scoring opportunities.’
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images