Nineties from openers Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt helped South Africa to a seven-wicket win over hosts New Zealand in the first one-day international in Auckland on Saturday, 25 January.
The visitors hunted down the 260-run target with nine balls to spare to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Lee and Wolvaardt shared a massive 163-run opening stand in 31.2 overs to lay a solid foundation. Lee was the aggressor in the partnership, hitting 13 fours during her run-a-ball stay before being dismissed just one short of what could have been her third ton in the format.
Sune Luus, the new batter, scored a quick 15 but was dismissed within three overs after Lee's departure. Despite the two quick wickets, Wolvaardt maintined her solidity and continued to anchor the chase. She was aided by the captain Dane van Niekerk, who scored a 43-ball 37 and shared a 64-run stand for the third wicket.
By the time, van Niekerk was out in the 47th over off Holly Huddleston, South Africa only needed 16 runs to win and they scaled the target with ease.
Wolvaardt remained unbeaten on 91 and Mignon du Preez (8*) hit the winning runs. New Zealand used as many as seven bowlers, but only Huddleston, Suzie Bates and Hayley Jensen could bag a wicket each.
Earlier in the day, South Africa won the toss and put in New Zealand to bat. The hosts got off to a slow start, losing their openers within 15 overs with only 51 on the board. Suzie Bates (53) and Katie Perkins (78) fought back admirably to push them past 250, but losing wickets at regular intervals during the the final 10 overs didn't help the cause, as they eventually finished at 259/9 at the end of 50 overs.
Ayabonga Khaka bowled a brilliant final over, giving away only five runs while picking up two wickets, including that of the well set Perkins for 78.
Khaka and Masabata Klaas were the pick of the South African bowlers, with three scalps each. Shabnim Ismail picked up two wickets while birthday girl Chloe Tyron picked up the lone wicket of captain Sophie Devine.
The second ODI will be played at the same venue on Monday, 27 January.
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