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New Zealand stays positive in search of series-levelling win

South Africa has taken the lead in the three-match ODI contest, and a win in the second match will solidify its No.3 ranking

New Zealand stays positive in search of series-levelling win - Cricket News
South Africa will win the three-match series if it beats New Zealand in the second ODI in Potchefstroom.

One of the features of a three-match One-Day International series is the urgency involved. Just one match in, the South Africa-New Zealand series has already assumed a do-or-die situation, and the visiting side will need a win in the second ODI at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Sunday (August 23) to keep its hopes alive..

South Africa was, for the most part, the dominant side in the first ODI at Centurion on Wednesday, which it won by 20 runs. Hashim Amla scored his 21st ODI century, putting on 185 with Rilee Rossouw (89) to help South Africa put up 304 for 7. Then, its bowlers hunted in packs, with all of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, David Wiese and Imran Tahir taking two wickets apiece, as New Zealand was restricted to 284.

As far as New Zealand was concerned, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were positives in patches, particularly its bowling in the death overs that put the brakes on South Africa’s batsmen – at one point, it seemed as though they would haul their side to a total in the 330-region. Adam Milne was particularly impressive with the ball, and the fielders were electric, effecting two run-outs. On the contrary, fielding was an area South Africa has room to improve in, having dropped a couple of chances in Gauteng. 

Colin Munro said as much on Friday. “We didn’t get many wickets throughout the middle, so the way the guys came back at the end was great,” he said. “Some of the senior guys said we need to scrap hard in the field, scrap hard as a unit. I think we showed that – on any other day, South Africa could have posted up to 340, so keeping them down to 300 was a positive.”

Munro took heart from the fact that, despite not playing its best cricket, New Zealand still came pretty close. “Everyone’s still pretty upbeat,” he said. “We didn’t play the perfect game the other night, and we only just only got beaten chasing 300. Everyone’s pretty positive and upbeat. We need to just tweak a few little things, and do things a little better in the next game, and we’ll come out on the right side.”

New Zealand will hope Martin Guptill is declared fit enough to play. He is the in-form batsman, with scores of 60 and 42 in the two Twenty20 Internationals preceding the ODIs, but he injured his left hand in the field on Wednesday. Fortunately for New Zealand, an MRI Scan thereafter showed there was no fracture. “He will be monitored daily with a hope to still play a part in the series,” said a statement on Thursday.

The pitch at Senwes Park has a history of aiding batsmen. Incidentally, the last ODI played at the venue was between the same two sides as well, a thriller that went down to the last ball – South Africa won by one wicket, with Ryan McLaren hitting a six off the final ball, although New Zealand won the series 2-1.

“When you’re 1-0 down in a three-match series, it becomes this finals sort of cricket, and you’ve got to win every game,” said Munro. “We’ve got everything to play for and last time we came over here, we came away with a series win. If we can repeat that, it’ll be great, but we’ve got to keep working on our processes and plans and keep executing those. And as long as we’re getting better each game – and that’s what we’re being asked to do – I’m sure we can come out on the right side.”

Munro said taking early wickets would be key. “Every time we play South Africa, these guys step up,” he said. “Amla showed that, Rossouw showed that, and they didn’t really need AB (de Villiers) and (David) Miller to come through. But they’re not going to score runs all the time, hopefully we can get them early. We’ve got plans that we can try and stick to, and hopefully we can implement them really well and come out on the right side of the ledger.”

A series win for South Africa will see it continue at third spot in in the ICC ODI Team Rankings, and hold off fourth-placed New Zealand.

Teams (from)
South Africa: Faf du Plessis, 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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