New Zealand 331 for 8 (Williamson 66, Abbott, 2-36) beat South Africa 197 (Duminy 80, Boult 5-51) by 134 runs
It probably did not bring back memories of the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal because it was not a game of similar importance but New Zealand would have given South Africa reason to be concerned before the tournament begins. The co-hosts dominated the encounter, piling on runs against a Dale Steyn-less attack and ploughing through a line-up minus Hashim Amla. Both were rested.
AB de Villiers, who returned to captain after missing Monday's warm-up with tightness in the hip, would not have been impressed with anything except the defiance shown by JP Duminy and Vernon Philander, who put on a century stand. But Brendon McCullum would have been. With batting contributions all round and a five-wicket return for Trent Boult, things could not have gone better ahead of his team's tournament opener three days from now at the same venue against Sri Lanka, who lost to Zimbabwe down the road in Lincoln.
Before the match, the South African sentiment, delivered through Faf du Plessis, was that they had had enough of warm-ups and were anxious to begin the tournament proper, and they played that way. The bowlers lacked bite, the batsmen lacked fight and even though New Zealand were not competing as though their tournament hopes depended on it, they dictated proceedings from beginning to end.
New Zealand's top order boasted a trio of fifty-plus partnerships, between Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum, McCullum and Kane Williamson and Williamson and Ross Taylor. All four batsmen got starts - McCullum went on to make a more than run-a-ball fifty and Williamson a 53-ball 66 - and all gave their wickets away. Guptill flashed at a wide Wayne Parnell delivery, McCullum was bowled advancing on Aaron Phangiso, Williamson pulled to mid-on and Taylor was stumped after being lured forward by Duminy, but South Africa were not overly threatening with the new ball or spin.
Kyle Abbott made good use of the short ball and was rewarded with wickets in the New Zealand lower-middle order but the foundation was strong enough for that not to impact their charge too much. Grant Elliot, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi all played freely to set New Zealand up for a strong finish.
Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum put on 37 runs in 25 balls for the eighth wicket and New Zealand took 79 runs off the last ten overs as South Africa rotated through a slew of bowlers. They used eight in total, including du Plessis, with Morne Morkel the most economical but Farhaan Behardien, who offers medium-pace, was not among them. He was suffering from a lower-back problem which also meant he could not bat, even when South Africa's middle order looked ready to crack.
By the 14th over, they were 62 for 6 following spells of speed, swing and spin from Tim Southee, Boult and Vettori. Rilee Rossouw's stop-start career hit another snag when he was cleaned up by Boult in the third over, Quinton de Kock did not get much more practice after making a return from an ankle ligament tear two matches ago, and when du Plessis and David Miller both offered Tom Latham catches in the same over, New Zealand may have believed it was too good to be true.
They still had de Villiers to deal with but he only hung around until the 14th over when he offered Brendon McCullum a catch at mid-off. New Zealand may have been eyeing an early afternoon but Duminy and Philander frustrated them. Slowly, with no eye on chasing what had then become an improbable target, they went about building a partnership which may bode well for South Africa's hopes of a competent lower-middle order later in the tournament.
Their 121-run stand came in just under 27 overs but it showed evidence of commitment to the cause. Duminy played the anchor role and Philander followed his lead. New Zealand allowed things to drift and before they knew Duminy was closing in on a century. Boult returned to induce him into playing on and the tail followed to give New Zealand a big, albeit drawn out, victory.