New Zealand v South Africa, 1st ODI, Wellington February 25, 2012

South Africa cruise to win after de Villiers ton


South Africa 254 for 4 (de Villiers 106*, du Plessis 66*) beat New Zealand 253 for 9 (B McCullum 56, Williamson 55) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A masterful run-a-ball 106 not out from AB de Villers shepherded an expert South Africa chase, as they hauled in New Zealand's 253 for 9 with six wickets and 4.4 overs to spare, taking the early series lead with victory in the first ODI in Wellington. de Villiers found support from JP Duminy after New Zealand took three wickets inside the mandatory Powerplay, before he pushed for the win alongside a more adventurous Faf du Plessis, who ended with an unbeaten 66 from 49 deliveries. The pair's 129-run stand swung the match decisively in their team's favour, after the South Africa bowlers had done well to restrict New Zealand earlier in the day.

de Villiers was calculating throughout his innings. Having arrived at the crease almost six overs after JP Duminy but quickly moved past his partner's score, despite taking few chances against a miserly New Zealand attack. Gaps in the infield were expertly picked out, with the signature downward dab to third man proving particularly fruitful. Boundaries were occasional, measured and superbly executed - coming only off bad balls, and just when South Africa needed to prevent the asking-rate from ballooning.

He was calm alongside Duminy, as the pair overcame three early losses, but was clinical when Faf du Plessis was at the other end, powering towards victory with the innings consolidated. His successive sixes off Rob Nicol in 40th over during the Powerplay confirmed South Africa's ascendancy after a tense middle period, and pulled the required-rate to well below a run-a-ball. From there on, with six wickets in hand and 50 to get, it was South Africa's game to lose. Pressure eased, they galloped to the finish.

New Zealand will be disappointed given their terrific start with the ball, but will also rightly feel they did little wrong. South Africa's chase was on track to be the highest ODI score without any extras, until one was conceded in the 43rd over - a fact that is testament to New Zealand's discipline. Nicol's figures of 1 for 43 from five overs does not flatter his competent offspin, while Doug Bracewell too will feel he did not deserve to go at almost six an over. They were simply singled out and targeted by South Africa's batsmen, who were in supreme control, having insidiously garnered momentum following the early wobble.

The New Zealand pacemen did not find the extravagant movement South Africa induced at the beginning of the innings, but were precise in the early overs, using bounce and modest swing to exact their early scalps. Hashim Amla fell prey to a slight indipper from Tim Southee, before Graeme Smith departed two balls later, flashing at an angled delivery from Kyle Mills that was pouched by the keeper. Jacques Kallis seemed comfortable as he probed the gaps confidently for his 13, but was late on a pull shot off Doug Bracewell and managed only to surrender his wicket to square leg.

Duminy and de Villiers combined for a steady 90 to rescue the visitors from 35 for three, dealing almost exclusively in singles, almost mirroring New Zealand's approach at a similar stage in their innings. Nathan McCullum was miserly through the bowling Powerplay, as New Zealand's infielders helped extend the parsimony as South Africa took few risks. Duminy had in fact made 34 of his eventual 46, before he struck his first boundary.

du Plessis was a more proactive foil for de Villiers, as he struck four boundaries in successive Tim Southee overs not long after his arrival at the crease, while his captain progressed as he had done from the start of his innings - finding the gaps and ensuring genuinely bad balls were duly punished.

The two accelerated during the batting Powerplay, taken at its latest possible stage, scoring 45 from the five overs to swing the equation decidedly in their favour. It was clever, uncomplicated hitting, reliant on timing and placement rather than innovative frills, and when both men reached their milestones - de Villiers his 13th ton and du Plessis his fourth fifty - in the same expensive Bracewell over, the end was within touching distance.

The win had been set up by South Africa's fearsome pace-bowling inquisition at the top of the New Zealand's innings, and a canny performance at the death, that helped restrict the hosts to 253 for 9. Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn tested the hosts with blistering pace, and were unlucky not to have more wickets, even if the New Zealand top order cleverly tempered their attacking instincts, choosing to leave and defend instead of chasing a dynamite start.

Nicol and Martin Guptill were grilled by movement off the seam and sharp bounce, before Dale Steyn came into the attack to add hooping movement through the air to the pace concoction. South Africa's pacemen were perhaps unlucky to glean just one wicket from the opening stanza, but they had shackled a typically explosive top order and reduced them to scampered singles to the infield.

New Zealand eventually found their way following consolidation from Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson - both of whom notched up smart fifties through the middle overs. McCullum was caught on the boundary just as his belligerent streak began to show. Williamson, whose innings was steadier but none less effective, helped lay a foundation from which New Zealand could launch - he carried the side to 191 for 4 from 40 overs, before falling in the 41st.

The acceleration New Zealand had become accustomed to against Zimbabwe, though, never came. de Villiers used no less than five bowlers in short bursts in the last ten overs, forcing the New Zealand batsmen to constantly readjust, meaning less runs and more wickets than the hosts would have bargained for. Only two boundaries were hit from overs 40 to 49, and were it not for a wayward final over from Morne Morkel, New Zealand would have struggled to make 250.

Edited by Nikita Bastian

Andrew Fernando writes for The Pigeon and has a column here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Garreth on February 27, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    @Philknight, well of course Im referring to wealth distribution. Because Im referring to how many people will financially be able to play cricket, whether at school or elsewhere. Stories like Makhaya Ntini's are few and far between. Most of the young black players that have come through are from a relatively small population of affluent black families. 85% of SA is black and most of that number is living in poverty. And yes that post was primarily directed at your post because of the arrogance of it. You think we should feel sorry for NZ because they lost to SA despite all theyve had to say (including Mills now)? And that all their victories should be acknowledged? Have you forgotten that if it wasnt for SAs fight for democracy we wouldnt even be playing international cricket (wouldnt bring that up if it wasnt for your excuse for NZ)? Sorry but I'd rather use my admiration for a team like Afghanistan who are in REAL strife yet keep playing and dont whine.

  • Phil on February 26, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    @MrGarreth - I think if you do some research you will find that SA's economy is much bigger than ours. I'd say you are probably referring to the distribution of wealth, as your country has obviously not addressed those issues yet. I guess it is those issues, and all their associated problems, that has led to so many of your people emigrating and boosting cricket stocks around the world. The All Blacks picking people from other countries is nonsense. The confusion comes because Auckland is the biggest Polynesian city in the world. All those players have either been born in NZ or went to school here.

  • Garreth on February 26, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    Okay for all you NZ fans who are still using that 4 million excuse to get people to feel sorry for you when you lose (conveniently not mentioning it when you win). You should remember which nation youre using it against. This is SA. We are STILL poverty stricken. We do NOT have a pool of 50 million people to choose from because most of them have never or will never pick up a cricket bat because they will not go to a decent school or any school at all. That is still the sorry state of our nation. And we certainly dont have the luxury of of picking up foreigners like you guys do (your All Blacks are filled with non-NZs and your cricket team has started to follow suit with the likes of de Grandhomme and a former Saffer would you know. Cant quite remember his name.) You even have a better economy on which to build a better team. On top of that we have England taking many of our best players. It was about time we got one when Tahir came along. Doesnt make up for what NZ and Eng have taken.

  • Phil on February 26, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    @jplterrors I was going to go for England but decided that would spark too much anger from our friends from the north. I am sure not too many Scots go on this website! I was so pleased with the Hobart win but I am realistic that a combination of factors went in our favour. I think Steyn is going to work over our top order and we will also struggle against their quality spinner and their other (very fast)bowlers. Smith/Amla/Kallis/AB are also probably going to deal to our raw pace attack and Dan is no longer a wicket taking test spinner. I believe test cricket is not as simple as your analysis. A lot of success? Check the international records. SA have dealt to us regularly, apart from a couple of blips in world cups. Anyway, my friend I do not want to argue. I hope I am proved wrong!

  • josh on February 26, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    @phillknight yr analogy of NZ V SA in cricket like ABs V Scotland? Scotland never beats the ABs where as the black caps have alot of success against sa. Couldnt see Scotland beating the ABs in a worldcup either.. Also the tests are still to come last time we played Aus away we won, and last time SA played Aus at home they lost...

  • sanjai on February 26, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Der is amistake not 17 of 30 itz 17 of 13

  • sanjai on February 26, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Well done AB ur d World's best batsman..., Look at d performances of AB as captain 6matches 52(40), 17(30), 39(36), 96(76), 125(98), 106(106 6 matches , 435 runs , 145.00 avg, 117 strk rate, 2 hundreds , 11 sixes... What more needed??????????? He is the best

  • Phil on February 26, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    This NZ/SA battle on the message boards should really stop. To all you South African fans you must realise that you are being baited on here by people who denigrate your team and talk up the Black Caps. The fact is your team is one of the premier teams in world cricket, with several players who regularly feature in top ten lists, and our team is just a battling underdog that makes the most of its scarce resources. South Africa playing NZ in cricket is similar to our world champion All Blacks playing Scotland in rugby. In reality the sport is tiny in New Zealand and ANY achievements we manage against South Africa/Australia/England/India should be recognized by all cricket fans.

  • Brian on February 25, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    Poor decision by McCullum to bat first despite 7 of the last 8 (now 8 of 9) matches at the caketin having been won by the chasing side. I wonder if that was an over-reaction to the result of the final twenty20?

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    It was a good display of batting from AB and Faf last night that bought SA home, but I can't help but feel that NZ are lacking some decent leadership in the field. Mccullum had a easy run with ZIM, and to be honest you didn't need to be an exceptional captain to beat a team like that as the bowlers and batters did their jobs with ease. But once he got the advantage last night after some good bowling, he seem to run out of ideas on what to do next, apart from coming up to the stumps to medium/fast bowlers which limited what they could do. The best thing about someone like Stephen Fleming is that he could me changes on the pitch which could get the desired results, even if the team wasn't as good on paper. Need to see Taylor back in the side, as his performance with the bat has improved since taking over the captain duties, unlike Mccullum. Cudos to SA though for exploiting that,but hopefully the BC can turn it around in the next games.

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