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The Preview by Devashish Fuloria
January 24, 2013
January 25, 2013
Start time 2.30pm (1230 GMT)
What's better than a series win in the ODIs for a team that looked lost in the Tests not so long ago? A clean sweep, and that is what New Zealand will be aiming for when they meet a South African side that appears increasingly fragile.
How the tables have turned. No one really gave New Zealand a chance and even the few reporters who had travelled to South Africa left before the series started. But the young side has a number of players who were not part of the Test failures; they showed resilience in the first ODI in Paarl, where the lower order helped the team nick a one-wicket win. The second win was more thorough: New Zealand posted 279 and applied enough pressure on the South African batting to trip them well short of the target.
New Zealand have grappled hard with off-field issues in the past month but the wins have shifted focus from the missing players to those who have performed. Mitchell McClenaghan announced his entry into ODIs with a dream spell in the first game while Williamson recorded a big hundred in the second. However, a few of the bigger names would hope to put up some weighty performances and end the series on a high before England come calling.
South Africa, on the other hand, find themselves in a strange position. They were outright favourites when the series started but lost key players and now the complexion of the team looks very different. No AB de Villiers, no Hashim Amla, a new captain in Faf du Plessis, fast bowlers in rotation, and they now appear to be the team lacking in focus - and are underdogs ahead of the match.
Form guide(most recent first, completed matches only)
In the spotlight
Martin Guptill started the tour with an unbeaten century in a Twenty20 match but hasn't done much since then. He had scores of 1, 0, 1 and 48 in the two Tests and his run got worse with two ducks in the ODIs. His place in the team is likely to come under the scanner ahead of the England tour and this match is his last chance on this tour to reiterate his value.
Graeme Smith is not the captain in ODIs but he would have to be the pillar to keep the shaky batting line-up together. He scored a half-century in the previous match but his run-out triggered a collapse, highlighting the need for someone like him to be in the middle for others to play around him.
South Africa may consider bringing in Dale Steyn to add zing to the seam-attack, while Aaron Phangiso is likely to make his debut as Robin Peterson was pulled out after splitting his webbing in the second ODI. Dean Elgar, who replaced an injured Amla, is unlikely to feature in the XI.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Colin Ingram, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 Farhaan Behardien, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Aaron Phangiso, 9 Rory Kleinveldt/Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
New Zealand are unlikely to change their winning combination.
New Zealand: (probable) 1 BJ Watling, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Grant Elliot, 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
A flat deck is expected in Potchefstroom on what promises to be yet another hot day. The venue has been a happy hunting ground for the home team, who are yet to lose a match here.
Stats and Trivia
"We probably just have to be slightly more aware of what fielders are where. New Zealand have got some outstanding fielders."
South Africa batsman Colin Ingram
"We can't underestimate how big a victory this is and, yes, it as a starting point but it's still important to realise that we looked the giants in the eye and were able to come away with success."
Brendon McCullum says the team is headed in the right direction
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Devashish Fuloria
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