New Zealand eye another upset
January 22, 2013
Start time 2.30pm (1230 GMT)
"Beware of the kiwi" may not sound like the most threatening of warning signs but New Zealand once again showed that their bite is often a lot worse than their bark in winning the first match of the ODI series by one wicket in Paarl. Even during a largely dismal run over the last year or so, New Zealand have managed Test upsets in Hobart and Colombo, while an eight-wicket T20 win in East London before Christmas came just a couple of days after a defeat of the same magnitude. Though they won the decider and then cruised in the Tests, South Africa should have taken note.
Victory in the opening ODI gave New Zealand only their third such win in South Africa but it has left them eyeing an unexpected - and unprecedented - series success in the country. For South Africa, a failure to take three tail-end wickets with more than 100 runs still required invited a reprise of questions about their temperament that will perhaps be of more concern than the defeat itself.
With a light Test schedule in 2013, South Africa will have plenty of time to focus on their perceived shortcomings in limited-overs cricket. But the planning process for the Champions Trophy in June, as well as the 2015 World Cup, has already been disrupted by the suspension of captain, AB de Villiers, for the rest of the series. With Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy missing from the squad, de Villiers' ban will also put further pressure on a batting order that was tested by Mitchell McClenaghan's left-arm seam and swing.
Faf du Plessis, who led with the bat in Paarl, will now take over the captaincy, rather than the vice-captain Hashim Amla, and will hope he can rally the team to victory as he did in the T20s. The No. 1 ODI ranking is out of South Africa's reach, for the time being, but there are places to play for and pride to be restored. Having been viewed as a punch bag walking into the one-dayers, however, New Zealand will fancy landing a few more shots of their own.
Form guide(most recent first, completed matches only)
South Africa: LWLLW
New Zealand: WLLLL
In the spotlight
A star of last year's Under-19 World Cup, Quinton de Kock has been quickly elevated to the position of South Africa's limited-overs gloveman in order to reduce the demands on de Villiers. While there has not yet been much opportunity to judge his batting, there was criticism of his failure to react quickly enough to a crucial chance as New Zealand closed in on victory on Saturday and, with a disciplinary hearing due this week and the the possibility of suspension for the final ODI, de Kock will want to assert his credentials.
There is often confusion about James Franklin's role in the New Zealand set-up, having progressed from a new-ball bowler and tailender to middle-order bits-and-pieces man. The merits of such a strategy can be debated elsewhere but Franklin's experience showed through in his management of the New Zealand chase from such a dire position, particularly as he attacked to winning effect at the end. In these times of flux for New Zealand cricket, a steady, responsible presence with bat and ball might be just what they need.
With the suspension of de Villiers will come a change to the batting order. David Miller has been called up to the squad but may have to take his place in the queue behind Farhaan Behardien. Morne Morkel, South Africa's leading ODI bowler in 2012, could also return to the side.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 Farhaan Behardien/David Miller, 6 Quinton de Kock (wk), 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Rory Kleinveldt, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Jimmy Neesham and Grant Elliot bowled just five overs and made one run between them in Paarl, so Colin Munro might be considered for an ODI debut. Alternatively, New Zealand could trust their lower-order to acquit themselves again and bring either Neil Wagner or Trent Boult into the attack.
New Zealand: (probable) 1 Rob Nicol, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 BJ Watling, 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt/wk), 6 James Franklin, 7 Colin Munro, 8 Jimmy Neesham, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
Pitch and conditions
The Kimberley pitch has a reputation for being flat and, with the temperature expected to stay in the 30Cs on Tuesday, batsmen are the more likely to prosper. South Africa failed to defend 299 against Sri Lanka on the ground almost exactly a year ago and, although Kimberley has been used infrequently, only twice has the chasing side failed to reach their target - Namibia and Kenya losing heavily to Full Members during the 2003 World Cup.
Stats and Trivia
- New Zealand have played twice before at Kimberley, losing to South Africa in 2000 and beating Bangladesh in the 2003 World Cup.
- Graeme Smith needs 94 runs to overtake Gary Kirsten and move third on South Africa's leading ODI scorers list.
- Mitchell McClenaghan's 4 for 20 were the best figures for a New Zealand bowler on debut and the 11th best overall.
- If South Africa lose all three ODIs, they could slip as low as joint-fifth in the rankings.
"It's a nice pressure that we have, to win both games. Maybe we were a little bit relaxed in that first game, now we know we have to play very close to our full potential to beat them. It's a nice little challenge for us."
Faf du Plessis says losing the first ODI was a reality check for South Africa
"It was pleasing to get the win when not playing up to our full potential. Hopefully this is a turning of the corner for us."
Nathan McCullum knows there is room for improvement from New Zealand
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo