Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa captain AB de Villiers smashed an entertaining 89 and all-rounder Jean Paul (JP) Duminy hit a fluent 58 to lead the Proteas to a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the first ODI in Mount Maunganui.
However, New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi deserves a lot of credit for his career-best knock of 99.
De Villiers would have been thrilled with his decision to bowl first since his bowling attack reduced New Zealand to 68/5.
With New Zealand in deep trouble and on the verge of collapsing even further, Ronchi and Tom Latham rescued the Blackcaps with a much-needed 65-run partnership before Latham was stumped by Quinton de Kock off the bowling of Duminy for 29.
Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum and Kyle Mills all fell in quick succession following Latham’s dismissal.
However, with the Blackcaps struggling at 156/9, Ronchi and Trent Boult put together a last-gasp 74-run partnership, which is now the highest tenth-wicket stand for New Zealand in ODIs.
During the record-breaking partnership, Ronchi brought up his half-century and was well on his way to reaching his maiden ODI century before he was caught behind just one agonising run short of his hundred.
Ronchi’s career-best knock of 99 came off 83 balls and included 11 boundaries and three sixes.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir and Ryan McLaren picked up two wickets apiece, while Duminy and Dale Steyn snapped up one wicket each as New Zealand were bowled out for 230.
Chasing 231 to win, South Africa got off to a terrible start as de Kock was caught by Latham off the bowling of Boult for nine runs.
Faf du Plessis only made eight runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Boult.
Rilee Rossouw managed to make 26 runs before he was caught by Dean Brownlie at slip off the bowling of Corey Anderson.
Hashim Amla mustered 38 runs before he was clean bowled by Kyle Mills.
Following a flurry of wickets, de Villiers and Duminy took over as they amassed an unbeaten 139-run partnership, during which both batsmen registered their half-centuries, to lead South Africa to victory.
De Villiers ended up making 89 off 85 balls, which included nine boundaries, while Duminy remained undefeated on 58 off 72 deliveries, which included three boundaries and two sixes.
Boult was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Mills and Anderson claimed one wicket each.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum was disappointed to have lost, and said: “Not too bad, pretty good. The game was pretty close. We had a period where we weren’t far away. Proud to get to 230 after staring down the barrell but the class of AB and JP took them home.
“We were rusty and a little uncertain of the conditions. The wicket played relatively well. There was tennis ball bounce and it was slower than we realised. Through the top and middle stages, they kept picking up wickets regularly. Boult was outstanding today, starting to flow his Test game into the shorter game. Luke Ronchi was brilliant, disappointed for him not to get a hundred. Always good to see Dan back. Looked like he was racing around like a youngster. Couple of days of work, get a little more craft into constructing the innings and bowlers will get a little more info. We have to adapt our game better for Friday.”
De Villiers, who was named Man of the Match, was ecstatic to have taken a 1-0 lead, and said: “It felt pretty good, it was a funny kind of wicket. I didn’t feel like I was in at any stage. It forced me to play more conservatively. Mixed feelings. To get them seven and nine down at the start of the powerplay, I expected the bowling to get them out. I thought 230 was defendable but we got a couple of partnerships together. I’m very happy, I can’t fault the bowlers’ efforts with them getting the team nine down. But, thinking of the World Cup, if we get teams nine down in 35 overs, we need to finish them off. We played pretty good cricket, fighting back from four down to win it. The locals here have been unbelievable, the net facilities and food has been unbelievable. It’s an absolute pleasure playing here.”