A half-century from Hashim Amla and five wickets from Imran Tahir allowed the Proteas to romp to a 78-run win against the Black Caps.
Record-breaking wins for the Proteas seem to be part and parcel of the way they play their cricket these days. The highest total between the sides followed a record margin victory, as the Proteas were in full flight against the No 1 T20 side in the world.
The 185-6 for the visitors was assessed as par, but it broke a five-year record between the sides, beating the 179-6 they scored in Port Elizabeth in 2012. The 33-run win margin that day was obliterated too, in what was a demolition job by Tahir.
Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo proved excellent foils to Tahir’s work, but it was the No 1 bowler in the world who will steal the headlines, becoming the second-fastest in T20 history to take 50 wickets after Ajantha Mendis, and securing the third-best figures by a Protea – his 5-24 following Ryan McLaren’s 5-19 and David Wiese’s 5-23.
A large degree of credit must go to the ground staff for getting this game under way in the first place, as Eden Park experienced 36 hours of torrential downpour in the lead up to this match, with the game finishing just as light rain returned in Auckland.
It wasn’t a bad way to signal their return to the ground, as memories of their World Cup semi-final exit here in 2015 flooded back. More importantly, it was an excellent way to kick off the series, giving the side a significant psychological boost ahead of the five-match ODI series.
All this after losing the toss too. The Proteas were sent into bat and De Kock fell for a duck, giving into the pressure that Trent Boult mounted. Boult would go on to secure figures of 2-8, bowling in a complete class of his own.
What then followed, was the work of two batsmen in supreme form, as Amla smashed four consecutive boundaries in the fifth over to get the Proteas back on track. Du Plessis followed suit with a flurry of boundaries himself, including an outrageous paddle shot for six off Tim Southee.
That paddle shot would prove to be Du Plessis’ downfall as the ball smashed on to his pads, but Amla pushed on and brought up a sixth T20 half-century before falling for 62. Just as AB de Villiers got going, he perished too, for 26, as New Zealand started to get the upper hand.
JP Duminy used the short straight boundary to great effect as he scored 29, stretching his side to the record 185-6.
The Black Caps were placed under constant pressure in response. Much hype was generated around East London-born Glenn Phillips going into the match, but the 20-year-old could only manage five off 11 balls. Chris Morris was then on a hat-trick as he got Colin Munro for a golden duck, recording a superb double -wicket maiden over.
It was then the turn of Phehlukwayo to chip in with quick wickets, seeing off skipper Kane Williamson and the dangerous Corey Anderson for six. He would finish on 3-19, career-best figures in this form of the game for the 20-year-old.
That allowed Tahir to tuck in, bowling, as ever, with fantastic variation and accuracy to peel away at the middle order and then the tail. His first wicket saw him take his 50th wicket in what was only his 31st game, reaching the milestone barely slower than Ajantha Mendis, who achieved this in 26 matches.
Tom Bruce was the only batsman up for the challenge with 33, as the New Zealanders were skittled for 107 – their sixth-lowest total in history. Tahir fittingly took the last wicket to wrap up his first-ever five-wicket haul in the format.
Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Gallo Images