This three-match series between the world's number one ODI side and the team ranked ninth seems to be a severe mismatch, and it is, given New Zealand's current horrific form and South Africa's dominance and cohesion.

This three-match series between the world's number one ODI side and the team ranked ninth seems to be a severe mismatch, and it is, given New Zealand's current horrific form and South Africa's dominance and cohesion.

Coming off a rather comprehensive Test series whitewash, where the hosts won each of the two games by more than an innings, it does not bode well for the visitors. They are demoralised, and are still getting used to a new, controversially-elected, skipper.

In their last 10 completed ODIs, the Black Caps have only one win, against the West Indies in July last year. The Proteas haven't been as dominant as you'd expect though, losing four of their last 10 games.

This series will be South Africa's first since September last year, where they drew 2-2 with England. The Kiwis have played more recently, in November, where they lost a five-game series 3-0 to Sri Lanka.

In terms of team news, the Kiwis have made a number of changes due to injuries, with Grant Elliott replacing all-rounder Corey Anderson, and former South African fast bowler Neil Wagner coming in for Adam Milne.

South Africa will be able to use Quinton de Kock behind the stumps, saving AB de Villiers' lower back, after it was decided to push his domestic disciplinary hearing to after the series. The youngster was allegedly involved in a scuffle while playing for the Lions against the Cobras this week.

All three games are being played at smaller venues, to give the hoi polloi in the provinces a chance to experience international cricket. Paarl, Kimberley and Potchefstroom are the chosen towns.

Boland PArk in Paarl, site of the opening game, has hosted nine ODIs, the last of which saw the Proteas beat Sri Lanka by 258 runs a year ago. Still, the hosts have lost five times, so if the Black Caps pacemen can take advantage of the bouncy track then it could be an interesting game.

The De Beers Oval in Kimberley also has the Proteas at a disadvantage, losing six out of 11 games, while Senwes Park in Potch last saw an ODI in 2010 and the hosts have won five of the seven games they played there.

Let's be honest, despite the Kiwis tendency to beat the South Africans in important World Cup matches, and their ability to pull off a great performance every now and again, one expects the hosts to win the series at a canter.

Key Men
With AB de Villiers not required behind the stumps for this series, the skipper should be in rude health with the bat. His form in the middle has been on an upwards swing recently, and he is one of the classiest, most destructive players in the line-up. With one less duty to focus on, and his superb fielding skills available, he is an exciting player to watch.

The Black Caps didn't have many stars during the Test series, but one or two did stand out. Dean Brownlie is not in this squad, so that leaves BJ Watling to focus on. He was a rare bright light for the Kiwis and was really the only player to cope well with the Proteas' pace attack. He could be the difference between restored pride and another whitewash.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2012: South Africa won by five wickets in Auckland
2012: South Africa won by six wickets in Napier
2012: South Africa won by six wickets in Wellington
2011: New Zealand won by 49 runs in Dhaka
2009: South Africa won by five wickets in Centurion

Prediction
Online betting firm Sky Bet have South Africa at 1/9 and New Zealand at 11/2 in the odds to win the series. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket betting.

More cricket bets here.

Squads
South Africa: AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Ronnie Hira, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Rob Nicol, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson

Fixtures
First ODI: 19 January in Paarl
Second ODI: 22 January in Kimberley
Third ODI: 25 January in Potchefstroom