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December 26, 2012
Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, has said that although they lost the Twenty20 series to South Africa 2-1, he was pleased with the way his young team responded after the drubbing in Durban. McCullum pointed out to the progression of the young players in the squad as one of the big positives from the series.
"The introduction of the new guys, playing in front of big crowds, is a positive," McCullum said. "We have seen some good performances from the new guys, especially Mitchell McClenaghan, and it is encouraging.
"Although, we didn't get the results, we took significant strides in the series. The key thing is to continue to build the team inside out. We saw some guys step up, and they would now know what's required in international cricket. Progression of where we were a couple of weeks ago and where we are now, it's good."
New Zealand started the tour in a disastrous manner when they collapsed to 86 batting first in Durban and lost by eight wickets. But they turned the tables on South Africa in East London, mainly due to an unbeaten century by Martin Guptill. The deciding match in Port Elizabeth was expected to be an even contest, but it didn't turn out that way.
"We came into this game with high hopes," McCullum said. "We built up some good momentum after the East London game. For few moments today, we competed well, but South Africa grabbed the bigger moments and we were found wanting."
New Zealand, after being asked to field, kept a tight leash on the South African scoring till the 14th over, but gave away 80 runs in the last six overs to cede the advantage. Chasing a big total, they lost Rob Nicol early and though Guptill and McCullum shone for a while, their wickets ended New Zealand's challenge.
Some of the members of the T20 team are headed back to New Zealand and McCullum said that for the rest, the focus quickly needs to change to Test cricket now. "The Test guys that have joined us two days ago, we need to channel our focus towards Tests, to the challenge of taking on the No. 1 Test side in the world."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Darren Sammy and Brendon McCullum have both had moments to savour as captains at international level but the pair begin this contest with major questions hanging over them