A half-century from Hashim Amla allowed the Proteas to post a record total between these sides in the one-off T20 against the Black Caps in Auckland.
Credit must go to the groundsman for getting this game under way on time. Despite 36 hours of torrential downpour, a full game is set to take place, and the Proteas will fancy their chances of pulling this one off thanks to a decent all-round effort from Amla and the middle order.
Looking to beat New Zealand for the 11th time in 15 T20 encounters between the sides, the Proteas returned to the venue that saw them lose in the World Cup semi-final. Whether it’s still a sore point or not, the visitors brushed that aside with some crafty batting as they exploited the short, straight boundaries to great effect after struggling to get going in the first three overs.
Sent into bat by Kane Williamson, Amla and De Kock struggled to get Trent Boult away at first as he strangled them for length. That brought about the wicket of De Kock as he tried to force the issue, attempting to hook a full delivery. He picked out the fielder on the boundary for a duck.
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 would prove Du Plessis’ downfall, though. The 87-run stand came off 7.3 overs, before a repeat attempt at the shot smashed on to his pads for 36. A sixth T20 half-century followed for Amla as birthday boy AB de Villiers maintained the run rate at the other end.
The Proteas offered plenty of catching opportunities on the boundary as Amla picked out Tom Bruce to depart for a 43-ball 66, and just as 33-year-old De Villiers was about to unleash, he skied one to perish for 26 off 17 balls.
JP Duminy, coming into this match under a fair amount of pressure, did his talking with the bat as he used the 50m straight boundary to great effect, playing a straight drive for six off his second ball.
Boult came back into the attack and was once again in another class compared with the rest of them, conceding only two runs off the penultimate over, including the wicket of Farhaan Behardien (8), to finish with incredible figures of 2-8 off his four.
Duminy (29) and Chris Morris (9) scrambled to 185-6, beating their previous-best score of 179-6 against the Black Caps, set in Port Elizabeth in 2012.
Photo: Anthony-Ah Yeung/Gallo Images