New Zealand v South Africa, 5th ODI, Auckland March 4, 2017

SA overcome hiccups to seal series, regain No. 1 spot


South Africa 150 for 4 (Du Plessis 51*, Miller 45*, Patel 2-26) beat New Zealand 149 (de Grandhomme 32, Rabada 3-25, Tahir 2-14) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Watch - Highlights of South Africa's series-winning victory

South Africa's one-day side started in New Zealand as the No. 1 and they will end it there after an oscillating series went their way at a ground that now holds some good memories. There were a few jitters with the bat - there were bound to be, weren't there? - but after a commanding performance in the field, which sucked the life out of New Zealand's batting order, a target of 150 gave them breathing space.

From the moment that the hero of Hamilton, Martin Guptill, was defeated by Kagiso Rabada there was never any let-up from South Africa with the ball. Rabada was high-class on a surface offering more carry than any other in the series. Imran Tahir, who New Zealand have played well this series, then reeled off the most economical 10-over figures by a South Africa spinner - and the best by any spinner in an ODI in his country - as the innings almost came to a standstill.

Andile Phehlukwayo missed the Hamilton match with a minor groin injury and had a significant impact on his return with the wickets of Dean Brownlie and Ross Taylor. South Africa's ground-fielding also conjured two wickets, including the major scalp of Kane Williamson, as New Zealand's batting slumped for the second time in the series.

But they did not let their unbeaten one-day home record, dating back to South Africa's visit in 2014, go easily and for a moment mid-chase, another Eden Park classic was not complete fantasy. Jeetan Patel had snaffled two - and had an lbw against Faf du Plessis overturned by DRS - and when AB de Villiers was bounced out by James Neesham - not a dismissal you would have put your house on - South Africa were 88 for 4. But du Plessis, who reached fifty with the winning boundary, and David Miller, ensured against any further drama.

It was a superb set-up from Rabada, a sharp bouncer which ensured Guptill had to be wary of planting forward, then a yorker which he tried to advance to but only got in a horrid position with his stumps exposed. As ugly as Hamilton was breathtaking.

Williamson and Brownlie weathered the rest of the opening ten overs but a horror few minutes sent the innings into a spiral. It's a period Brownlie will want to forget. Firstly he decided to chance de Villiers' fielding at midwicket which left Williamson stranded when the South Africa captain dived and flicked in the blink of an eye. Williamson's bat got caught in the turf short of the crease, but he would have been short regardless.

Three balls later, Brownlie play round a full delivery from Phehlukwayo and almost walked before the finger was raised. Tahir's first four overs cost just four; eventually overs 10-20 brought 31 for 4. As in Wellington, Phehlukwayo was key to that, bowling wicket-to-wicket at brisk pace, and was rewarded again when Taylor fell across a straight one.

Luke Ronchi's stay was never convincing and he gloved a short ball as he tried to sway out of the line. Neesham, yesterday recalled to the Test squad, had looked as comfortable as any of the top order but for the second time in the series was removed by a short ball from Rabada, although it needed the DRS to confirm the top-edge.

The build-up to Mitchell Santner's demise highlighted South Africa's suffocating ground fielding. Three consecutive shots from Santner were intercepted sharply in the infield, then the fourth went to JP Duminy at backward point who slid and threw from the ground, hitting directly with Santner nowhere.

Tahir, who did not concede anything other than singles, gained his reward against the lower order. In three of the five matches, New Zealand had played him as well as anyone of late - "respect" had been the word used by both sides - but they became almost strokeless this time. The pressure of the occasion, the pitch, or just a good day for him? Only they will know.

Such was the swift end to New Zealand's innings that South Africa batted before the interval. Patel again saw off Quinton de Kock - that change of tactic had worked a treat - and scoring wasn't easy after the break. Hashim Amla completed a fifty-less series when he drove to cover as did Duminy - the latter far more of a concern - when he drove softly at Patel. Duminy had again been used ahead of de Villiers, but he has regressed during this series.

De Villiers has been far and away South Africa's best batsman and he was eager to finish things himself. He took a six apiece of Patel and Santner but was then surprised by the nip and angled of Neesham's bouncer, which followed him and took the glove to the keeper. As a single moment it was a superb spectacle, but not enough to open the game for New Zealand.

Du Plessis ticked over and for the first time in the series Miller played the type of forceful shots he has become known for. The target hurried into view. The sun had only just set. This time not on South Africa.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Johannes on March 6, 2017, 14:26 GMT

    I am a Protea fan, but must congratulate NZ on a fine performance. It seems most supporters of both sides agree that the two sides are currently numbers one and two in the word in limited overs. Glad that the series was played in a fine spirit. SA lost three times in world cup matches against NZ. I personally went through the agony when Greatbatch destroyed us at Eden Park in 1992! The test series now will be interesting and a lot will depend on the quicks on both sides. I expect Philander and Bolt to play an enormous part in proceedings. We will miss AB de V. The form of Bavuma will also be important. Lately he threw his wicket away more often then not. In the final analysis, the contributions from batsmen 6,7 and 8 will also play a huge roll in the outcome as the front line batsmen from the two sides cancel each other more or less out. Also catches win matches .....

  • ronhur0718202 on March 5, 2017, 18:27 GMT

    A beautifully crafted report by a wordsmith!

  • Connor Harris on March 5, 2017, 9:12 GMT

    CRICUSER, is that the team that lost to India in pool play and not the team that spanked everyone leading up to that semi final?

  • Ruchir on March 5, 2017, 8:35 GMT

    Many congratulations to South Africa. They have never been able to win WCs , that's a different story. But I have always seen them perform brilliantly on tours. New Zealand is also one of my favorite teams. All the best to both squads for tests: an Indian fan :)

  • Cheese on March 5, 2017, 7:01 GMT

    JP Duminy fails again under pressure. Of course he will still get picked.

  • akonda8707277 on March 5, 2017, 5:20 GMT

    who is the player of the series though?why didnt they announce anyone?

  • akonda8707277 on March 5, 2017, 5:17 GMT

    my favorite team for champions trophy: 1 qdk 2 amla 3 faf 4 abdv 5 miller 6 pretorius 7 morris 8 philander/parnell/phehluk 9 morkel/parnel /phehluk 10 rabada 11 tahir

  • shovwar on March 5, 2017, 2:18 GMT

    @BlackCapsBestintheWorld if u measure the strength of Bangladesh with WC in a bileteral series you might me mistaking. I think NZ is the 2nd best team in the World after SA. And both these teams never won a WC but will soon win 1 i hope. Bangladesh is an international standard team in ODI with few World Class ODI players in it. Without Guppy, Kane, Southee and Boult Bangladesh have the abilty to beat NZ in a bileteral series. Even Ireland can pose some threat. It will be a good contest for the depleted NZ side. Mark my word NZ might even lose it. Its one day international.

  • lambrs9680839 on March 5, 2017, 0:27 GMT

    SA are a class above the NZers, but still think Black Caps can improve selections. Southee is a cruiser and needs to be dropped, irresponsible in his batting and barely medium pace. Ronchi, Broom and Brownlie should never be considered again. Neesham has done enough to be persisted with - is the quickest of the regular bowlers and will improve his variations over time and his batting is getting better. Latham has shown that he belongs at this level despite the poor run of scores and should be a certain pick. Class always wins out in the end. Both Milne and Ferguson need to be in the squad so they can be developed for top level - teams have to have points of difference and genuine pace is one of them. Sodhi still lacks consistency but is worth picking because he can deliver more wicket taking balls than other spinners. Definitely time to introduce new batting blood into the squad as well, but not Munro - he doesn't have the temperament or the defensive technique needed at top level.

  • Subash on March 5, 2017, 0:17 GMT

    Congratulations SA. They are truly a team on the rise both in test matches and ODIs..well deserved from an Indian fan.

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