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All to play for in winner-takes-all series finale

Middle-order batting is South Africa’s main concern, while New Zealand has to rejig its game plan keeping in mind the conditions in Durban

All to play for in winner-takes-all series finale - Cricket News
South Africa players celebrate a wicket.
A scintillating series will come to an end in Durban when South Africa and New Zealand clash in the third and final One-Day International on Wednesday (August 26) – a virtual final after South Africa won the first ODI at Centurion and New Zealand levelled the series in Potchefstroom.
 
After being beaten by 20 runs in the first game, New Zealand did well to peg things back at Senwes Park on Sunday. The visitor put in a fine all-round display then, with the bowlers first restricting South Africa to 204, and then Martin Guptill, ignoring an injury to his left hand, hammering an unbeaten 134-ball 103 that helped New Zealand win by eight wickets with 33 balls to spare.
 
A feature of New Zealand’s victory was its bowling. While Guptill was in great form, the win was set up in the first half, with Doug Bracewell’s inclusion working like a charm. “It was a hugely positive performance. We’ve show signs of improvement over this tour,” said Dimitri Mascarenhas, the New Zealand bowling coach, before the third game. “We came up on a different wicket that offered different challenges, and the boys adapted straight away. It wasn’t bouncy, it wasn’t flying through, so we had to go wicket to wicket, and it was great to see them adapt really fast, and reap some really good rewards.”
 
There is competition for places in this New Zealand side, especially amongst the bowlers, and Mascarenhas said it helped the team. “We’re coming up leaps and bounds. It’s all about learning,” he said. “We’ve got a young squad, a young group of bowlers out here. It’s great to learn, but also to win. To put the practice in and do well in games is exceptional.
 
“There is competition for places. Matt Henry hasn’t played a lot on this tour, (Mitchell) McClenaghan has just missed out on this last game and has gone in and bowled really well. There are great bowlers out there that aren’t playing. There is competition for places, the boys are desperate to do well, and it’s great to have young guys coming through.”
 
Meanwhile, South Africa will be concerned with getting its middle order to come together. While it put up 304 in the first ODI, it was largely due to Hashim Amla’s 124 and his 185-run stand with Rilee Rossouw. Thereafter, the batsmen were dismissed in quick succession. The slide continued in Potchefstroom, where the openers were dismissed early, and the other batsmen struggled to stitch runs together. Only Farhaan Behardien managed to get a good score, hitting a defiant 87-ball 70.
 
During the first Twenty20 International in Durban earlier in the series, the pitch appeared conducive to batting, and more of the same is expected when the two sides square off on Wednesday. That – along with the tension that is bound to be around with the series at stake – might just be what the doctored ordered for the likes of AB de Villiers and David Miller to let go with abandon.
 
Mascarenhas was wary of the South African batsmen, saying bowling in Durban posed a whole new set of challenges, but he was confident of his bowlers. “It’s a huge game. Decider, winner takes all, pretty much, it’s a final, in essence. Looking at how the wicket played in Durban during the T20Is, if we assume it’s going to be like that, it’s going to be another high-scoring game,” he said. “I don’t know what the team is going to be, but at this stage, if we play the same team, I’m pretty confident our bowlers can do a really good job and restrict them.”
 
With the series at stake, New Zealand has a chance to cap the tour with a win. South Africa will have other ideas though.
 
Teams (from)

South Africa: Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, AB de Villiers (capt), Imran Tahir, David Miller, Vernon Philander, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Morne van Wyk (wk), David Wiese, Dale Steyn.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Doug Bracewell, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Ben Wheeler, George Worker.

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