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Ken Borland

SA v NZ T20 matches are always intense

Posted on January 08, 2013 by Ken

South Africa’s limited-overs contests with New Zealand have often been antagonistic affairs and the abbreviated, all-action nature of T20 cricket means the adrenaline and intensity can only be ramped up a couple of notches.

The history of T20 matches between the two nations goes back to October 2005 when New Zealand played the first T20 international on African soil, beating the Proteas by five wickets at the BidVest Wanderers Stadium.

Since then, however, South Africa have had a clear advantage over the Black Caps, winning six of the last seven encounters.

Those wins have not always been clearcut, however, with South Africa winning off the last ball at the Wanderers in November 2007, by one run at Lord’s in the 2009 ICC World T20, and by just three runs in their last meeting with the Kiwis.

That victory in Auckland in February, bowlers Marchant de Lange, Morne Morkel and Johan Botha strangling the hosts in the last five overs, clinched a hard-fought series win for the Proteas.

New Zealand, led by the chic batting of Martin Guptill, had won the first game and should have won the decider, but were blown away by Richard Levi in the second match.

It seems a long time ago that Levi blasted his astonishing 117 not out off just 51 balls in Hamilton, breaking the world records for fastest T20 century (45 balls) and most sixes (13). The 24-year-old almost inevitably lost form after suddenly finding himself in the international limelight and, by the end of the ICC World T20 in October he had been dropped. But the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras opener has regained his touch and has been one of the star performers in the Momentum One-Day Cup this year.

The whole ICC World T20 affair is one Proteas coach Gary Kirsten will want to put behind him as quickly as possible as the former India coach completed a miserable record of having lost all nine of the matches he has been involved in in the SuperEights stage of that competition.

The next T20 world cup will be upon us apace in Bangladesh in April 2014, the year before the 50-over World Cup South Africa so desperately want to win, and Kirsten will begin the process of building a new squad when the Proteas face New Zealand in three internationals in Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth over the Christmas period.

Success in twenty20 international cricket has not come as swiftly for Hashim Amla as he would have liked, but Levi has surely done enough to earn a recall, while it is clear Faf du Plessis has what it takes to excel for South Africa in all formats.

Then again, Amla showed during his magnificent 196 off just 221 balls in the Perth Test against Australia that he has the ability to put any attack to the sword, so that trio could make a perfectly acceptable top three.

Jacques Kallis, the most complete cricketer South Africa has ever produced, deserves a rest before the Tests, but AB de Villiers is the perfect batsman to anchor the middle-order.

JP Duminy’s unfortunate injury does leave a hole, however, with Farhaan Behardien and Justin Ontong not enjoying totally convincing form at domestic level.

With Johan Botha, South Africa’s most successful T20 spinner, also out of contention and Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn possibly resting after their heavy workloads in 2012, Kirsten has the chance to clean the slate and introduce some new faces.

Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Ryan McLaren, Hardus Viljoen, Andrew Birch and Aaron Phangiso are all players who have covered themselves in glory in recent months.

New Zealand, meanwhile, are still tearing their hair out over their inconsistency and have injury problems to boot, with Dan Vettori ruled out of the tour with an achilles problem.

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