ODI series preview: NZ v South Africa
The Proteas enter this series having won 11 ODIs on the bounce and looking to build momentum ahead of the Champions Trophy which gets underway in June.
New Zealand have shown patchy form in ODI cricket this season, competing well in India before a tame capitulation in the series decider and being whitewashed by Australia away before beating the same team 2-0 in a return series.
The Black Caps also dispatched Bangladesh with ruthless efficiency but may find the Proteas to be a completely different prospect.
New Zealand will scrap hard and should put up more of a fight than Sri Lanka but the Proteas will be determined to win the series to maintain their number one ranking in ODI cricket.
The Black Caps have the look of a team who haven’t quite settled on their best combinations and don’t appear to have recovered from the string of retirements that followed the 2015 World Cup final loss.
Conditions in New Zealand are about as close you can get to what it will be like in the UK in June and July.
No series preview involving the Black Caps would be complete without highlighting their reliance on Kane Williamson. It seems natural when you have a player of such unique talent to become heavily relient upon them much like the Proteas seemed for a long time to lean on AB de Villiers.
De Villiers absence from the fifty over set up for the Proteas has strengthened the team as a whole with Faf du Plessis filling the leadership void and batsmen like Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and David Miller filling in for the dynamic skipper.
The Proteas will be disappointed that David Miller is missing out on the tour with injury but his absence allows the Proteas to play around with a few different combinations and test the batting ability of the allrounders in the squad.
New Zeland will be without Martin Guptill for the series opening games but when he does return it will add power to the top of the Black Caps batting.
Both teams have excellent bowling units with Tim Southee and Trent Boult spearheading the Black Caps while the Proteas will look to young Kagiso Rabada and the veteran spinner Imran Tahir to lead their attack.
Williamson will need to perform a stabilizing role in the middle-order while contributing runs to a batting unit that has an air of fragility about it.
Du Plessis is the Proteas form batsman and a man who has done a great job of filling the AB void and even with the skipper back his runs and leadership will allow Mister 360 to play with greater freedom.
Boult is New Zealand’s best chance of making inroads into the potent Protea top order and putting pressure on a lower-order that has had little to do in recent months with the bat.
Tahir is in sublime form at the moment and has encapsulated the spirit of Protea fire that Cricket South Africa use to market the brand that is the national team. His wicket celebrations are worth the price of admission and his passion for the game is infectious.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Neil Broom, Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (Titans, ODI capt), Faf du Plessis (T20 capt), Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras), Farhaan Behardien (Titans), Quinton de Kock (Titans), JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Imran Tahir (Dolphins), David Miller (Knights), Chris Morris (Titans), Wayne Parnell (Cape Cobras), Dane Paterson (Cape Cobras), Andile Phehlukwayo (Dolphins), Dwaine Pretorius (Highveld Lions), Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions), Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans).
Last five head-to-head results
2015 3rd ODI: South Africa won by 62 runs at Kingsmead in Durban
2015 2nd ODI: New Zealand won by 8 wickets in Potchefstroom
2015 1st ODI: South Africa won by 20 runs at Supersport Park in Centurion
2015 World Cup Semi-final: New Zealand won by 4 wickets at Eden Park in Auckland
2014 3rd ODI: No Result in Hamilton
1st ODI 19 February at Seddon Park in Hamilton
2nd ODI 22 February at Hagley Oval Christchurch
3rd ODI 25 February at the Basin Reserve in Wellington
4th ODI 1 March at Seddon Park in Hamilton
5th ODI 4 March at Eden Park in Auckland
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