New Zealand need new ideas to stop tourists
February 29, Napier
Start time 1400 (0100 GMT)
A win in Napier will see South Africa add the ODI trophy to their victory in the Twenty20s in New Zealand. Gary Kirsten, head coach, has made plain that South Africa's goals are to win every series they play, whether at home or away, and a triumph on his first visit abroad with the team will serve as a strong indication of what the team can offer in future.
So far, almost everything South Africa have tried has worked. They should not experiment too much in their quest to close out the series with a match to spare, but will likely continue to leave the No. 4 position flexible and use the part-time spinners to keep the opposition batsmen guessing.
What has been most impressive about South Africa's performances in New Zealand has been the apparent progress they have made in the mental side of the game. JP Duminy alluded to it after the first ODI when he spoke about how he, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis negotiated the tough period after the loss of three early wickets. South Africa have embraced pressure on the tour so far and will want to do so again, as proof of their ability to deal with it.
After starting the tour brightly, with victory in the first T20, New Zealand have let South Africa have the better of them. Always a shrewd side, New Zealand will have to think harder than normal to come up with ways to beat a South African side who seem to have an answer for everything.
New Zealand have had recent success at McLean Park. They beat Zimbabwe by 202 runs in an ODI at the venue two and a half weeks ago. In addition to the magnitude of the win, the massive 373 for 8 New Zealand piled on in that game with buoy them, after a below-par batting performance in the Wellington ODI. They cannot hope to maul South Africa's exponentially more dangerous attack the same way they did Zimbabwe's but they can hope to make better use of home conditions in an attempt to take the series to a decider.
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Players to watch …
Kane Williamson's ODI hundreds have come against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe but his next highest score, 55, came against South Africa in the first match in Wellington. Often overshadowed by the openers, Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, Williamson has not had too much opportunity to display his talent and will hope he gets a chance in this match. He has shown himself to be both classy and courageous with bat in hand and spoke of his admiration for AB de Villiers' "clinical" innings in Wellington, one he would like to mirror.
Jacques Kallis has played in both previous ODI series South Africa have contested in New Zealand. He scored a century in his first ODI innings in the country, in 1999 in Dunedin. In Napier, however, he has scored 4 and 0 in his two innings. With South Africa's current tour being headlined by the young guns, Kallis will want to show that the old hands still have it. He has been in sublime form in ODIs in the last six months with three half-centuries in his last five games. With his ambitions to play in the next World Cup, Kallis will want to get big scores in New Zealand, who are co-hosts for the 2015 tournament.
New Zealand have left Michael Bates and Doug Bracewell out of their squad. Bracewell has been rested in preparation for the Test series. The No. 5 position will be occupied by either Jesse Ryder or Tom Latham. Ryder has to be managed as he makes his return from a calf injury and may be rested. The bowling unit may see a return for Andy McKay, who last played when New Zealand lost to Zimbabwe in Bulawayo last October, if New Zealand opt to go without legspinner Tarun Nethula.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Rob Nicol, 3 Brendon McCullum, 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Jesse Ryder/Tom Latham, 6 James Franklin, 7 Andrew Ellis, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills 10 Tim Southee, 11 Tarun Nethula/Andy McKay
Both South Africa's openers, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla, have concerns with the former nursing a sore arm after being hit in the nets and the latter looking after a cold. AB de Villiers said he expects both to play. If one of them misses out, South Africa will need a makeshift opener and could look to Robin Peterson or Justin Ontong to do the job. The rest of the line-up should remain unchanged with Peterson holding on to his place ahead of Johan Botha.
South Africa (probable): 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Graeme Smith, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Stats and Trivia
- The Wellington ODI will be Brendon McCullum's 200th
- South Africa have four survivors from the last time they played in Napier: Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Robin Peterson and Albie Morkel
"That was the beauty of the Zimbabwe series; guys got integrated into the side."
Brendon McCullum says New Zealand now have a larger pool of players to choose from if they opt to rest members of the squad
Edited by Dustin Silgardo
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent