• First ODI: 10 talking points

    We look at the 10 talking points that came out of the Proteas six-wicket win over New Zealand.

    Shot of the Day: Vernon Philander copped all of four sixes, the first two consecutively, but the third was undoubtedly the most audacious. Anticipating the short length and clearing the front leg, Luke Ronchi launched a biggie high and hard into the stands beyond the midwicket boundary.

    Delivery of the Day: Philander, despite the sixes, was characteristically metronomic outside the off-stump. Patiently plugging away, as he does time and time again in the Test match fold, the right-arm seamer returned a settling dynamic to the ODI new-ball attack. The delivery to get rid of Martin Guptill, an out-swinger geared toward luring the right-hander into an edge, obliged on cue.

    Batsman of the Match: The cavalier Ronchi was earmarked for the accolade before AB de Villiers arrived at the crease – and gradually tucked into an innings of true finesse. De Villiers’ 89 not out was a masterclass in calculated hitting, laced with exquisite timing. There was no need for reverse sweeps or premeditation, which will have their place in more pressing scenarios later this year, as the Proteas skipper epitmosed the adage of ‘leading from the front’. He, too, generated the time to shepherd JP Duminy to a complementary half-century.

    Bowler of the Match: Imran Tahir cracked the nod ahead of Aaron Phangiso for the playing XI, despite the latter being put in front of the media in the build-up to the match. Tahir repaid the selectors’ faith, too, proving the pick – and the most economical – of the South African attack. Enjoying more pace and bounce than turn, the leg-spinner enjoyed a promising recce mission ahead of the 2015 World Cup in Australasia.

    Fielder of the Match: Outdoing the jackrabbit Faf du Plessis is no mean feat, but Brendon McCullum dived more, slid further, jumped wider and ultimately saved plenty of runs. With a background in wicketkeeping, McCullum is characteristically keen to be involved in all but every delivery. He was a veritable livewire at short cover, in particular.

    Milestone of the Day: Ryan McLaren welcomed a 50th ODI cap in Mount Maunganui. The 38th South African to achieve the landmark, McLaren will soon surpass Kepler Wessels’ 55 and Craig Matthews’ 56. The talented all-rounder has come a long way since his days as Kent’s Kolpak player, and must be tipped to at least double his tally.

    Fail of the Day: The flop was two-fold – Jimmy Neesham’s promotion to the top of the order was a bridge too far for the so-called T20I specialist, while Corey Anderson suffered a first-ball duck at the hands of Morne Morkel’s ability to snipe through the gate between bat and pad without much fuss.

    Key Juncture: With the contest slipping away, and a solid partnership developing between Hashim Amla and de Villiers, McCullum’s bowling change worked a treat halfway through the pursuit. The return of Trent Boult ensured a cheap over amid the growing expense, before Kyle Mills forced a false stroke from Amla, whose attempt to dribble the ball to thirdman resulted in an inside edge onto the stumps. The breakthrough, regardless, proved in vain.

    Selection Poser: South Africa’s eagerness to have Rilee Rossouw in the middle order came at the expense of David Miller, who was nursing a slight throat infection, in the series opener. Miller’s ability to force the pace against an attack flanked by two specialist spinners, on a relatively sluggish pitch, was missed. The status quo should resume later this week, with Miller back and Rossouw benched.

    Quote of the Day: Sidelined from the XI, Miller spent some time in the commentary box: ‘I don’t get a lot of time in front of the mirror when sharing a hotel room with Faf, who spends a lot of time on his looks.’

    By Jonhenry Wilson

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