New Zealand v South Africa, T20I, Auckland February 16, 2017

Strong South Africa to test New Zealand's T20 form


Match Facts

February 17, 2017
Start time 7.00pm local (0600GMT)

Glenn Phillips will make his debut at the top of the order for New Zealand © Getty Images

The Big Picture

New Zealand have dispatched Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia at home this season but the visit of South Africa is the meat of their summer. We should know a fair amount more about Kane Williamson's New Zealand by the end of March.

Whether the tour actually gets going on Friday night is another issue. Rain lashed Auckland on the final practice day - it has already disrupted South Africa's first few days here with the warm-up match washed - and it currently appears touch-and-go if it will clear in time for a full match.

One-off T20s are pretty meaningless in the grander scheme of things, especially so far away from the next World T20, and Faf du Plessis said pretty much that at his arrival press conference. However, cricket should be about the spectators as well as the players and, if the weather plays ball and the crowd swells into the ground, it should be a lively Friday evening.

The only part of South Africa's home season that did not go to plan was the T20 series against Sri Lanka when a second-string side were overturned 2-1. This time the side will closely resemble the powerhouse one-day unit; whether that translates into the performance remains to be seen.

For New Zealand in T20 there is a sense of getting a glimpse at the future. Tom Bruce came in against Bangladesh, left-armer Ben Wheeler returned and Tom Blundell also featured. Blundell has made way for the fit-again Luke Ronchi, but 20-year Glenn Phillips has been rewarded for his stellar Super Smash tournament.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WWWLW
South AfricaLLWWL

In the spotlight

Colin Munro has lost his place in the ODI squad after two failures at the hands of Australia, but two international innings previously he had notched his maiden hundred with 101 off 57 balls in the second T20 against Bangladesh. That century came in the middle of two ducks in the same series, then a brief trip to the BBL was not hugely successful before his twin failures against Australia. His last outing in domestic cricket was at least a half-century, but he remains a hit or miss player.

Quinton de Kock was one of a host of first-choice players given the Sri Lanka T20 series off and how he was missed at the top of the order. Although one half-century in 29 innings may seem a little underwhelming for someone who has played all but three of those as an opener (he has, though, passed 25 in 17 of those innings) he can light the powderkeg for an innings as was witnessed at the World T20 against England when he scored that lone fifty.

Team news

The 20-year-old Phillips will open in the absence of Martin Guptill, while Kane Williamson indicated that Nos. 3 to 5 in the order would remain the same as the Bangladesh series. That could mean a decision between Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme although much will depend on if the game is reduced due to rain.

New Zealand (possible) 1 Kane Williamson (capt), 2 Glenn Phillips, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Tom Bruce, 5 Corey Anderson, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Ben Wheeler, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult

South Africa will make a late decision over the fitness of David Miller after the finger injury he picked up against Sri Lanka. If he is fit to play it would likely mean Farhaan Behardien, who captained South Africa in their previous series, missing out.

South Africa (possible) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller/Farhaan Behardien, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Andile Phehlukwayo, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

Eden Park equals endless mentions of short boundaries. Yes, they are still short straight. It doesn't mean batsmen always take advantage, though. While the weather forecast is poor there is the potential for it to clear up during the afternoon and the ground does have top-quality drainage. The pitch is unlikely to suffer although if there is play under cloudy skies the ball could swing, while a damp ball would be hard for the spinners.

Stats and trivia

  • These two teams have played 14 T20Is against each other: South Africa lead 10-4
  • Despite the often-referenced short boundaries, the average score batting first in T20Is at Eden Park is a fairly modest 166. The highest total, made twice, is 214 by Australia (in the first ever T20) and England in 2013.
  • Phillips will play for New Zealand before he has played a first-class game for Auckland.


"I've been working really hard. It's not easy to go in every series and try to perform but as long as I'm doing well for the team, as long as the captain and boys are happy, then I'm happy."
Imran Tahir on his recent success

"We want to hit the ground running tomorrow night. It's a shame about the build-up and the weather, but we've been in camp for a while and every team has been playing a huge amount of cricket so nice to come off a little break."
Kane Williamson was not to worried about the soggy few days in Auckland

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Antony_Lucas on February 17, 2017, 7:16 GMT

    @SAMEOLD: Thats all Neesham has, potential, sad but true, hes not just adapting and improving

  • cricfan47906723 on February 17, 2017, 5:14 GMT

    Why matches from new Zealand didn't have broadcastERS in India?We want to enjoy matches from from there as well. please help me with this

  • BlackCapsBestintheWorld on February 17, 2017, 5:02 GMT

    What Im looking for. 1) Southee to have gained some pace (Ive basically lost all hope for this but since theyre so inclined on playing him in every format I can only keep hoping he pushes back into the high 130s.) 2) Munro to score runs. Ive been really frustrated with the guy but a glance at his FC stats shows hes special. I need some consistency here. 3) Phillips the new guy. I want him to take Lathams spot in the ODI side. 4) Hoping Ronchi fails with the bat so were one step closer to removing him completely from the national setup. Lockie should play

  • captainhansie on February 17, 2017, 4:29 GMT

    My money is on South Africa. Leather jacket too.

  • SAfanfromIndia on February 17, 2017, 3:59 GMT

    Does anyone know how/where to watch these matches in India? Couldn't find it listed in any of the sports channels on tv.

  • SameOld on February 17, 2017, 3:41 GMT

    @ANTHONY_LUCAS: Funny, I don't agree with either you or @SLAPTHEUMPIRE. Or maybe I should say I agree with both of you. Neesham's potential dwarfs CDG's, and he absolutely can change a match. That he hasn't managed a match winning performance at international level yet is a major disappointment but that doesn't mean he hasn't contributed to wins, or done well against "the top sides". He has a 100 & a 50 in Tests vs India, averages 40 against AUS in ODIs (only four innings). He has a decent T20i record against SA, and his last T20i against them managed 28 off 19 and took a wicket in a game NZ won handily. On the other hand, you're correct that his bowling in internationals has been awful lately, and a big dose of CDG's confidence, intent and sheer bloody-minded aggression would do Neesh wonders.

  • cricfan33732467 on February 17, 2017, 3:35 GMT

    Weather is fine here at Eden park, even some blue sky peaking through the clouds. Should get a game in I would think.

  • cricfan57234205 on February 17, 2017, 3:25 GMT

    Stopped raining over MT Eden near Eden park. Can see a little blue sky. Game on

  • Zeliah on February 17, 2017, 2:30 GMT

    In Auckland and its drizzling a fair bit with heavy overcast. Here's to hoping it clears up by 7 as the forecast suggests! Going to be a cracker of an opening match.

  • cricfan39950814 on February 17, 2017, 2:18 GMT

    The rain is expected to stop in the next hour or so; then it's just going to come down to how quickly they can dry it.

    I'd say 50/50 chance of playing - but no real chance of a fully game.

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