Absorbing the pressure better proved to be the difference between the sides as the Proteas suffered a six-run defeat in the second ODI against New Zealand on Wednesday.
The loss ended South Africa’s 12-match undefeated streak as the Black Caps levelled the series (1-1) on a ground that the Proteas had never played on before. The visitors, while leaving out Kagiso Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi, opted for a strong batting line-up down the order. The aim was to take the pressure off the top six, at a ground which has seen 300-plus in five of the last nine ODIs.
Proteas captain, AB De Villiers, believes that a lack of concentration from his top order was SA’s downfall.
‘The plan was to bat really deep so that the top order could take it easy and sit back in a way, but unfortunately, that cost us the game,’ said De Villiers.
‘There were too many soft dismissals. The top five need to take responsibility to be there until the end, despite us batting deep till N0 10. If Quinton or myself could take it through, it would have been a different story. We needed one of us at the crease until the end. There are no excuses for us to lose so many wickets.’
Dwaine Pretorius’ maiden ODI fifty sparked some hope of SA’s chances to get over the line.
‘We hoped until the last ball that we would get over the line. The youngsters did well and it’s great to see them play with confidence and freedom. It tells a lot about our culture in the team, the guys are really freed up and fully backed by the older guys and management so that they can express their talent. I was pleased with the youngsters in the team; the future looks bright.’
After the wicket of Pretorius, the pressure was passed on to Andile Phehlukwayo, but unfortunately the 20-year-old could not mimic the heroic last gasp batting skills he displayed at Hamilton on Sunday.
‘I felt he had the ability to clear it twice in the last over, at least that was the plan. Tim Southee bowled a fantastic over and so did Trent Boult for the last few overs; they hit the yorkers well.
‘Credit to New Zealand, I think they bowled exceptionally well at the end, handled the pressure better than us and that’s why they won the game.’
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