New Zealand proved all the pundits, and even most of their own fans, wrong on Saturday when they pulled off a nervy chase to win the first ODI against South Africa by just one wicket in Paarl.
They needed 209 to win after a great bowling display, and poor batting from the hosts, saw the Proteas all out for 208. The chase did not go smoothly and it went down to the wire, as James Franklin resisted to the last and made 47 not out to secure the win.
South Africa put on a disappointing batting performance, finding themselves all out in the 47th over, with only Faf du Plessis making a meaningful score. The middle-order batsman added yet another half century to his records as he provided the backbone to the innings, as debutant fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan and spinner Kane Williamson took four wickets apiece.
The Proteas will be gutted at not closing out the match, considering they had the Black Caps on the rack at 105 for seven, but Kyle Mills and Franklin then put on 47 for the ninth wicket to give the all-rounder the room to score the winning runs. Ryan McLaren's four wickets were in vain in the end.
The Black Caps won the toss and chose to bowl first, looking to take advantage of the early swing conditions. It was a good decision as they got rid of openers Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith early on, despite two dropped catches in the slips.
Amla batted with uncharacteristic recklessness and was out for 13 to Mills, and then Smith fell LBW to McClenaghan. AB de Villiers didn't last for very long either, and when he was out the score sat on 37 for three.
Du Plessis and Colin Ingram then combined to settle the stomachs, and put on 46 together. Ingram's patient knock came to an end for 29 when he was brilliantly caught just a whisker off the ground by a diving Nathan McCullum.
Quinton de Kock then joined du Plessis in the middle and they also batted slowly to put on a partnership, but the 20-year-old wicketkeeper was also caught by Nathan McCullum, this time off James Franklin for 18.
Once du Plessis reached his half century off 66 balls, he and Ryan McLaren continued to build the score towards something defendable. The fast bowler made a valiant 33, but once he and Du Plessis departed, it seemed unlikely they would post a big total.
McClenaghan also added the wickets of Robin Peterson and Dale Steyn to his impressive figures, both for ducks, and ended his day on 4/20 off his 10 overs.
Rory Kleinveldt mounted a last gasp stand to push the score over 200, hitting three sixes in one Mills over. He was the last wicket to fall, chipping Williamson to Mills with his score on 26 off 20 balls.
The Kiwis were soon down a wicket without any runs on the board when MArtin Guptill tried a suicidal run, and was run out by a De Villiers direct hit. Rob Nicol and Williamson also failed to reach double figures, leaving BJ Watling to once again steady the knock.
He batted alongside Brendon McCullum, who made 26 before being given out LBW to Rory Kleinveldt. It was during a power failure at the ground though, so he could not use his DRS review and had to walk.
Franklin and Nathan McCullum also put together a solid mid-30s partnership, knowing they had all the time in the world to get the small score. Even though they went nine down with 22 runs to spare, the all-rounder looked at ease with McClenaghan by his side.
This does, of course, mean that South Africa are set to lose the top ODI ranking, as they needed to win the series 3-0 to retain it. The second ODI will be played in Kimberley on 22 January.
South Africa: Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Colin Ingram, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Rory Kleinveldt, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
New Zealand: Rob Nicol, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, BJ Watling, James Franklin, Nathan McCullum, Grant Elliott, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan