Guptill ton secures easy win for Black Caps

New Zealand

Man of the match Martin Guptill (103) and Tom Latham (64) wasted no time in helping New Zealand match South Africa's limp 204 all out after the home side won the toss on a summery spring day at a sold out Senwes Park in Potchefstroom.

The Black Caps thus leveled the three match series in emphatic style as they achieved the sub-par total with eight wickets in hand and 33 balls to spare.

This may be a low profile out-of-season series but the scale of the loss will be worrying for the Proteas. It is true that South Africa are missing players like Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Morne Morkel but so too are New Zealand below full strength.

Captain Brendon McCullum, dangerous batsman Ross Taylor, all rounder Corey Anderson and star bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee are also absent for the visitors.

Potchefstroom is typically a very high scoring ground and although the surface was a little on the slow side, AB de Villiers will be upset with the way his side went about their business.

He was displeased with his side's effort in the first game and they won that match. Farhaan Berhardien (70 off 87 balls) put up a respectable show with the bat but wickets fell around him consistently and none of his partners were able to convert their starts.

It was never going to be easy to rebuild from 107 for five and New Zealand's bowling and fielding was energetic and disciplined.

Philander's 30 not out proved that he is something of an allrounder but the damage had largely been done by the time he came to the crease. Three run outs never looks good on a scorecard either.

Doug Bracewell's three for 31 was an impressive effort that was boosted by Williamson's shrewd captaincy – close catchers were rewarded with chances as he ripped through the middle order with some extremely smart variations on a wicket that didn't help the ball to come onto the bat as much as one would expect on a sunny day in these parts.

South Africa's bowlers were toothless in reply. The decision to open with Phangiso instead of Steyn was puzzling to say the least and De Villiers was clearly short of options as he used an astonishing eight bowlers, including himself.

This series has allowed a number of players to stake their claim for a more permanent spots in the side and Behardien is now very likely to be part of the selectors future plans.

The consecutive failures with the bat by stand-in wicketkeeper Morne van Wyk (2) means that the decider in Durban, on Wednesday, will most likely be his last ever in a South Africa shirt – although that is his home ground one wouldn't be surprised if the selectors asked De Villiers to take the gloves so as to make way for another batsman.

The David Wiese experiment may also prove short-lived and is Aaron Phangiso really an international calibre spinner? And where on earth is Ryan Mclaren? The allrounder was the team's top wicket taker in 2014 and is a very handy batsman and fielder to boot.

The Proteas face more questions than answers in all three departments going into Wednesday's decider. The jury now out as to who the underdogs really are.

Nick Sadleir at Senwes Park

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