The Proteas beat New Zealand by four wickets in Hamilton to equal the South African record of 12 straight ODI victories.
The Proteas’ impressive run of form continues. After thrashing Sri Lanka 5-0 in the recent series staged in South Africa, they have racked up a thrilling win in the first ODI clash on New Zealand soil.
What’s more, the Proteas have now equalled the South African record of 12 consecutive ODI victories. Not since 2005 has a Proteas side enjoyed such sustained success. AB de Villiers’s charges will own that record outright if they beat New Zealand in the second ODI in Christchurch on Wednesday.
They will know that there’s room for improvement, though. There were periods at Seddon Park where the Proteas were dominant, and then times when they looked all at sea.
The heavy rain in Hamilton saw the contest reduced to 34 overs a side, and both teams were forced to adapt. After winning the toss and putting New Zealand into bat, the Proteas allowed the hosts to finish strongly and post a total of 207.
Chris Morris ripped through the top order to claim four wickets. Kagiso Rabada chipped in with two, the second of which propelled him to 50 ODI wickets. At 21, Rabada is the youngest South African to reach this milestone.
Yet, the Proteas appeared devoid of ideas at the death. Morris proved particularly expensive in his final spell, as the likes of Colin de Grandhomme (34 off 19) and Tim Southee (24 off 13) proceeded to find the fence with alarming regularity.
The Proteas needed more than a run-a-ball on a slow wicket. Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla started well for the visitors, amassing a partnership worth 88 runs. This allowed South Africa to transfer the pressure back onto the hosts.
De Kock’s innings was beautifully paced. He picked the right moments to go after the spinners and ensured that the pressure remained on New Zealand.
But then Faf du Plessis, De Kock, JP Duminy, and Farhaan Behardien all fell in the space of a couple of overs. New Zealand hopes of an upset were reignited, and it was left to De Villiers and Morris to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
The Proteas went into the final 10 overs needing 75 runs for victory. Morris contributed with 16 off 16 before holing out. The New Zealand bowlers proceeded to apply the slow squeeze, asking De Villiers to take a few risks and hit his team to victory.
Andile Phehlukwayo fought valiantly alongside his skipper at the death. The final over arrived, and the equation was 12 runs from six balls.
Phehlukwayo held his nerve to hit Southee for six, and suddenly the Proteas’ task was made easier. Yet, it still took some composure for De Villiers to smash Southee for four off the penultimate ball of the game. That was the shot that secured the result and allowed the visitors to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
NZ 207-7 (34 overs) – Kane Williamson 59, Colin de Grandhomme 34 not out, Chris Morris 4-62, Kagiso Rabada 2-31
SA 210-6 (33.5 overs) – Quinton de Kock 69, AB de Villiers 37 not out, Tim Southee 2-47
South Africa won by four wickets
Photo: Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images