South Africa are set to continue being flexible with their batting order against New Zealand, with the aim of sending in the batsman best suited to the state of the game. In the five-ODI series at home against Sri Lanka, South Africa used three batsmen - AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis - at No. 4 to keep their opponents guessing.
"We've got six or seven totally different batters out there and we'd like to get the best player in the right situation for the team," de Villiers said on the eve of the first Twenty20 in Wellington. "We've got a few big hitters and some guys that can knock it around. If we need a few boundaries, Albie [Morkel] might go up the order. Gary and I like to keep the guys on their toes."
On paper, the line-up has Colin Ingram at No.3 followed by de Villiers, Duminy, Justin Ontong and Morkel, but de Villiers made it clear that could change. In the ODIs against Sri Lanka, de Villiers moved the most, batting everywhere from Nos. 3 to 6. He is in a rich vein of form and said he was enjoying the ability to give everything for his team.
The three-match series will be de Villiers' first as captain in the Twenty20 format since he took over the leadership in June 2011. He expected a stern of character against New Zealand, a team ranked two places above South Africa in the Twenty20 ratings. "Tomorrow will be a high pressure game, there's a lot of expectation around but we are just going to go out and enjoy it."
South Africa began their tour by beating Canterbury in a warm-up Twenty20 game, but their performance was not clinical. There were a few fumbles in the field - Canterbury's top scorer Matt Henry was dropped - but de Villiers said he was pleased by the commitment his side showed.
"I'm not a captain that harps on the mistakes we make, mistakes are always there. What I really liked is the presence we had in the field and the energy," he said. "You are going to drop catches, the best in the world drop catches sometimes. I don't mind that, we really fielded well and the guys are switched on."
Tomorrow's match is the first of 11 that South Africa will play before the World Twenty20 in September, a tournament they are putting many resources into winning. They have introduced new players - opener Richard Levi, middle-order batsman Justin Ontong and fast bowler Marchant de Lange, who will probably sit out the first game - and are trying new strategies as well.
"I'm expecting to see a lot of these faces there [at the World Twenty20]," de Villiers said. "That's definitely part of the plan, to get these boys ready for the big tournament later in the year. We've got bigger goals like the World Cup but this is a huge series for us and we'd love to win it."