New Zealand v South Africa, 2nd T20, Hamilton February 18, 2012

South Africa can improve, but can New Zealand?


Match facts

February 19, Hamilton
Start time 1900 (0600 GMT)

Big Picture

New Zealand had won seven international matches in a row before the first Twenty20 against South Africa. Their success began with the celebrated Test win in Hobart, and continued through the home series against Zimbabwe, whom they did not merely beat, but pulverised. Yet, New Zealand had to prove their form was real and not inflated by a succession of matches against relatively weak opposition. They had to reproduce it against South Africa.

And they did. Brendon McCullum's side had a near-perfect performance in Wellington. Their bowlers did not let South Africa's batsmen find rhythm, and their batsmen did not let South Africa's bowlers settle. The intensity of New Zealand's fielding was jaw dropping too, and their athleticism produced breakthroughs at times when South Africa were trying to kick on. It is hard to imagine how New Zealand can substantially improve on that performance. They were that good. The challenge for them will be to maintain such high standards when South Africa raise their game.

Because South Africa can raise their game, substantially. None of their capable batsmen were any good at the Westpac Stadium. Justin Ontong devastated Kane Williamson for four balls and JP Dunimy was steady not spectacular, but 147 was below-par on a flat pitch with short boundaries. It allowed New Zealand to chase at their own pace. South Africa's bowlers also allowed New Zealand to chase at their own pace. Wickets were far between and the fact that the target was reached with four balls to spare flattered them.

South Africa can certainly improve, and the chances are they will to some extent at Seddon Park. If they do, are New Zealand strong enough to produce a similar game? Can they be more intense than they were in Wellington?

Form Guide (most recent first)

New Zealand WWWWW

South Africa LWLLW

Players to watch …

In the absence of Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers are South Africa's best players of spin. They were dismissed cheaply by terrific fielding efforts in the first game and the rest of the batsmen, apart from Justin Ontong, struggled for fluency against the slow bowlers. How well South Africa tackle New Zealand's spinners will depend on how long Amla and de Villiers bat.

If Martin Guptill scores a fifty at Seddon Park, he will be the fifth batsman to make seven consecutive international half-centuries. His 78 off 55 balls in Wellington, which included a 127-metre six that hit the roof, ensured New Zealand were never in danger during the chase. Before he won the game off his bat, though, Guptill had produced two moments of magic in the field to dismiss Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers. He is easily among the world's best fielders at present.

Team news

Allrounder Jacob Oram did not play the first Twenty20 because of a calf injury sustained during the third ODI against Zimbabwe. On the eve of the Wellington game, Brendon McCullum had hoped Oram would be fit to play in Hamilton. If that is the case, Oram could return in place of Colin de Grandhomme. New Zealand are likely to leave Michael Bates and Andrew Ellis on the bench once again.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Rob Nicol, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Brendon McCullum (capt & wk), 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Colin de Grandhomme/Jacob Oram, 6 James Franklin, 7 Nathan McCullum, 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Ronnie Hira.

South Africa left out spinner Robin Peterson, and fast bowlers Wayne Parnell and Marchant de Lange from the first game. While it was the batsmen that contributed most to the defeat, the visitors don't have any replacements to call upon in that department. They are unlikely to make a change after one defeat, though if they do, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who conceded 28 in three overs, could make way for Parnell.

South Africa (probable): 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Richard Levi, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Justin Ontong, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe/Wayne Parnell, 11 Rusty Theron.

Stats and Trivia

  • New Zealand have not lost a Twenty20 international at Seddon Park. They have beaten West Indies, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, with the narrowest margin of victory being five wickets.

  • A total of 402 runs was scored in the previous Twenty20 at this venue - between New Zealand and Zimbabwe - less than a week ago.

  • Brendon McCullum has two half-centuries in three innings at Seddon Park, and a total of 153 runs at a strike-rate of 180. His brother, Nathan, has six wickets in nine overs, and an economy-rate of 5.11.


"It was a huge game for us. Everyone in the country was probably wondering if we could carry on the form from the Zimbabwe series against a higher quality opposition."
Brendon McCullum on the size of the following his team has in New Zealand.

"I feel I made a few mistakes [with field settings] so I take a lot of responsibility for what happened."
AB de Villiers on the defeat in his first away game as South Africa captain .

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 22:56 GMT

    The T20s and ODIs are meaningless compared to the Tests. I don't care if we're no 1 or no11 in T20s, same with ODIs these days.

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    Kane Williamson is sooo impressive!

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    Kiwi's looking really good about now, I think they'll have the Proteas well and truly under the pump in the shorter forms. As for the tests, I think they'll be well contested, but Kiwi bowlers are always good in NZ, and everyone in the team has shown good form in the domestic comps of late. Chris Martin was sublime against Zim, and looks exuberant despite his years; expect him to feast on the lefty packed SA lineup.. a la 2004. Throw in a few good spells of seam and swing from Bracewell and Southee, who are both hitting the low 140's regularly these days, and I can easily see us winning a test or two. Who knows, maybe after a good drubbing in the T20's and ODI's it will all be a bit much for the Saffa's, we all know how they love to choke.. Bring on the whitewash through all formats boys!

  • Dion on February 19, 2012, 3:41 GMT

    NZ are starting to look a good side. Some of our best talents are still young and I really think we can buld to be better than just a team that tries hard and punches above its weight once a year.

    Go NZ!

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 1:48 GMT

    Winchester666 -- Remember that Zim recently got 200 against NZ with the top 4 batsman. I think SA need to be more solid in the top 4... Lucky with T20 all it really takes is 1-2 batsman to do well and you can get a good score if your lucky. But somehow I think the Luck is with NZ atm.. Williamson against that Zim 2-0-0

  • Mark on February 19, 2012, 1:16 GMT

    What has many Black Cap fans cautiously optimistic is more than just results. Generally the team balance is better than its been in a long time. We have good first class players coming through & several of them seem to be delivering and have a fresh belief without the baggage of the past. Some of the older players are standing up and showing the way. Guptill is performing. It's fashionable to denigrate Chris Martin in tests but 8 wickets @ 22.37 in 2 tests against Australia (everyone a top order batsmen) is not bad. On top of that we have a no-nonsense coach who expects a good work ethic and commitment. To be fair I think SA are moving down a similar path, as are Pakistan. It's teams like Aust, India, SL and maybe England don't seem to have worked out how to transition the old with the new. At the start of the season everyone was talking India v Oz but it terms of hard fought quality cricket I think this will be the series of the summer. It could go either way. BRING IT ON!!

  • Chris on February 19, 2012, 0:50 GMT

    two more Twenty20 wins untill the Black Caps are officially the best Twenty20 team in the world!!!

  • hayden on February 19, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    @Showvwar - T20's any opposition can be dangerous? It's more of a tacticle game now & I've never seen teams Like Bangledesh & Zimbabwe threaten much at all. Sure the Netherlands beat England but then again Ireland beat England in an ODI too. And still underestimating this Kiwi side I see, Look every NZ cricket fan knows the tests are going to be... well the real "test" for the Black caps. We would firstly do well to avoid a whitewash without the help of rain, getting one test win would be a decent statement for our boys. But we are always dangerous in ODI's & especially hard to topple at home. We've thrashed a lot of top quality opposition in the last 15 years or so. We will be more than a match for the Proteas ODI side & I can see this series going either way. Remember NZ has beaten the far superior SA's in the last "3" WC's & one of those was on SA soil.

  • Chris on February 18, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    Surely drop Mills for Oram? Kyle's cannot consistently bowl a yorker length ball, and the fact is that while anything just short of a length will be okay in longer form of game, in T20 it is an invitation to get thee ball to the boundary. I am looking for SA to hit back hard tonight - AB and The Rock are too good to be shut down for long. But the BLack Caps will still win! The John Wright era of selection, coaching and psychology are well and truly upon us. Bring it on!!!!

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    If you want an answer as to whether NZ can improve or not: Nichol and McCullum could fire with the bat, and Mills will find his line and length with the ball. Add that to Friday's performance and SA are high and dry. We all know SA can improve in all departments from Wellington, but don't think for a second that the game was close, NZ had won after 10 overs and NZ paced it perfectly bar 4 bad balls from Kane Williamson. I guess the better question to ask is "SA can improve, but can they improve enough?". The answer is probably not until day 2 or 3 of the first test, and then it's on.

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