AB de Villiers became the quickest batsman to 9 000 ODI runs as the Proteas thrashed New Zealand by 159 runs.
The Proteas were brought back down to Earth last week when their 12-match unbeaten run came to an end. They soared right back up to the stratosphere with their performance in Wellington on Saturday.
A victory was far from definite at 271-8, but the pacemen, and then Imran Tahir, showed exactly how to exploit a slow surface. The Proteas have all the momentum now as they head to Hamilton on Wednesday looking to win the series.
This victory, their 13th in 14 matches, was set up by Quinton de Kock’s fifth-consecutive score of fifty or more as 300 looked on the cards, but a collapse to 180-6 was then repaired by an excellent 84-run stand between De Villiers and Wayne Parnell.
With five matches left before the Champions Trophy begins in England, could this be the Proteas’ bowling lineup? Kagiso Rabada was in devastating form with the Kiwi top order all at sea to the tennis ball bounce that the pitch offered. Parnell and Andile Phehlukwayo both tidied up their line and length and perhaps deserved more than two wickets, while Dwaine Pretorius continues to cash in on his opportunities in the side.
The 112 total of the Kiwis was their seventh-lowest total at home, and when they collapsed to 58-6, it became the first time in 10 years for them to lose six wickets for under 60 runs at home.
The one man that perhaps looked a bit out of sorts was Hashim Amla, who struggled to get in the right positions at the crease when the Proteas took strike first, with him finding the leading edge off Tim Southee to walk for seven.
For someone that’s been so effective at converting half-centuries into centuries, it’s starting to become a bit of a ‘weakness’ for Quinton De Kock, who was in excellent touch yet again for his 68, but once again succumbed to find the man on the square boundary. That was four balls after Faf du Plessis also departed to Colin de Grandhomme as the Proteas started to look shaky.
More quick wickets fell as the out-of-form JP Duminy was run out for 16 and David Miller fell for three, but De Villiers found a willing partner in Parnell, who was on hand to drag the Proteas out of a potentially tricky situation.
The first box De Villiers ticked was the five runs he needed to become the fastest to 9 000 ODI runs, doing it 23 innings quicker than India’s Sourav Ganguly. Then he brought up a 51st half-century, and even had his eye on a century in the final over before departing for 85 off 80 balls, with Parnell’s useful 35 helping the side to a competitive total.
Parnell weighed in with the first wicket as the hopelessly out of sorts Tom Latham fell for his third duck in five innings, and he should also have had NZ skipper Kane Williamson for four, were it not for a drop at slips by Amla.
Latham’s wicket merely set the tone for the rest of the innings as Phehlukwayo forced Kane Williamson to chop one on for 23, before Pretorius trapped Ross Taylor lbw for 18. Without those two to contribute to the chase, the Black Caps didn’t stand a chance.
Pretorius took the last wicket as Trent Boult skied one into the safe hands of De Villiers, for the all-rounder to back up his 2-40 from last week with figures of 3-5 from his five overs in the nations’ capital.
The Proteas will hope this is the beginning of another breathtaking run, as they advance to one match away from another series win.
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