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Ken Borland

Past wounds add spice to ODI series v NZ

Posted on January 08, 2013 by Ken

One-day internationals between South Africa and New Zealand always seem to have added spice, mostly because on the odd occasion the Black Caps have managed to win, they have often been the key games that have hurt the Proteas the most.

Of the 55 ODIs the two countries have played against each other, South Africa have won 33 and New Zealand 18, with four no results.

World Cup matches have been particularly happy occasions for the Kiwis, starting back in 1992 when they played an ODI against South Africa for the first time, at Eden Park in Auckland.

Kepler Wessels’ team, fresh out of isolation, were pummelled by seven wickets with 15-and-a-half overs to spare as New Zealand brought a fresh approach to limited-overs cricket.

South Africa did win their 1996 World Cup meeting in Faisalabad, thanks to their superb fielding and a fiery half-century from Hansie Cronje, and swept to victory at Edgbaston in 1999 after a brilliant all-round display by Jacques Kallis.

But since then, the Black Caps have notched three successive World Cup wins, with the trouble starting in Johannesburg in 2003 when Stephen Fleming’s great 134* powered New Zealand to victory and overshadowed Herschelle Gibbs’s wonderful 143, leaving the hosts on the brink of elimination and giving the visitors their first ODI win in South Africa.

New Zealand also took the spoils on the tropical island of Grenada, just off South America, in the 2007 World Cup, winning by five wickets to clinch a semi-final berth.

The 2011 World Cup defeat in Dhaka was perhaps the saddest of the lot because South Africa were riding high, their form steadily growing as they reached the quarterfinals, before Jacob Oram brutally chopped them down on a deteriorating pitch.

It felt like the apocalypse but, to their credit, South Africa rebounded by whitewashing the Kiwis 3-0 in New Zealand less than a year later in their most recent ODI meeting.

Despite all the World Cup pain they have inflicted, it is clear New Zealand will be up against it in the three ODIs between January 19 and 25. They have limped their way to just two victories in 18 previous matches against South Africa here, but perhaps it will suit the tourists that the games will be played in the smaller venues of Paarl, Kimberley and Potchefstroom.

With Ross Taylor, his captaincy having been called into question, on sabbatical, New Zealand will rely heavily on new skipper Brendon McCullum to lead the batting, while there will also be a heavy load on the shoulders of 34-year-old all-rounder Oram.

The attack is also missing key experience with spinner Dan Vettori out injured, but there is potential aplenty in young seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult, while veteran Kyle Mills usually enjoys conditions in South Africa.

The ODI series kicks off on Saturday a.m., January 19 in Paarl and South Africa will no doubt be eager to repay one of their arch-enemies for all that World Cup misery.

But it is clear the Proteas ODI squad is still a work in progress, with coach Gary Kirsten having an eye firmly on the next World Cup final at the end of March 2015, probably in either Sydney or Melbourne.

At the moment, there are places open in the team, with perhaps a third of the squad still not settled, but there is no reason to fear that. Kirsten and the selectors should have an amnesty from criticism as they sift through the potential talent and they will no doubt have plans to introduce some new faces in this series.

And, with Paarl, Kimberley and Potchefstroom renowned for being three of the driest places in the country, rain is unlikely to interfere with those plans!


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