Few would have predicted New Zealand’s dramatic one-wicket win in the opening One-Day International in Paarl and their successful run chase will have given South Africa plenty to think about ahead of the second game in Kimberley.
Not least, how to deal with the loss of AB de Villiers after he was handed a two-game suspension as punishment for the time taken by South Africa in the field as they battled in vain to prevent an upset.
David Miller comes into the squad as his replacement and Faf du Plessis is likely to take over the reins. At stake is South Africa’s record of not having lost a series since de Villiers’ appointment as captain, although he will play no further part in this contest.
His absence is both a blow for South Africa and a confidence boost for New Zealand, whose self-belief will nevertheless have rocketed in the wake of James Franklin’s heroics.
However, South Africa will be desperate to bounce back. Gary Kirsten signalled before the series that he wanted to see improvement as the squad builds towards the Champions Trophy later this year and they are not in the habit of losing series having gone through 2012 unbeaten.
Home side: South Africa
Since the start of 2012, the Proteas have played 14 ODIs, winning eight of them, losing five with one being abandoned due to bad weather. While de Villiers has been a key performer, in no fewer than seven of those matches (including five in a row) Hashim Amla has been their top scorer.
Opening the batting, he has ample opportunity to bat so if you like cricket betting, you could do worse than put some money on him with Ladbrokes. A consistent performer, he likes playing against the Black Caps, hitting half-centuries in both Napier and Auckland in March.
Morne Morkel has frequently led the bowling attack but with him absent, Robin Peterson has been in impressive form. One trend South Africa will be keen to reverse is that both times in 2012 that they lost one game, they followed it up with another loss. With this being a three-game series, there is no margin for error and they have to produce.
Cricket World tip: Hashim Amla to be innings top scorer
Away side: New Zealand
If you weren’t sure whether Paarl was an upset you need only to look at New Zealand’s record in 2012. In 16 ODIs, they won just four, and three of those were at home to Zimbabwe. They were trounced by South Africa, the West Indies and then Sri Lanka. Ross Taylor top scored on two occasions to get them close to wins but he isn’t in South Africa.
In his absence, Brendon McCullum, BJ Watling and Rob Nicol have been the most impressive batsmen with Nicol chipping in with the odd wicket but there really wasn’t much to cheer for New Zealand going in to this series. Another win would still be an upset but they stand a better chance, if only because they now know themselves that with a young side, they can beat this South African team.
Cricket World tip: Brendon McCullum to be innings top scorer
Last year's ODI here saw Sri Lanka beat South Africa by five wickets in a dead rubber. AB de Villiers top scored with 96 and Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the leading bowler but Sri Lanka, inspired by Thisara Perera proved too strong. Prior to that, South Africa had never lost here, including a five-wicket win over New Zealand in 2000. This is a happy hunting ground for the Proteas.
Almost everything points to a South Africa win, but then it did in Paarl and they were beaten. However, we think they should be too strong this time round and are putting our money on them to hit back, but don’t expect New Zealand to make it easy for them. South Africa’s determination to avenge both New Zealand’s win in Paarl, and their loss in Kimberley last year, makes them our pick.
Cricket World tip: South Africa to win
© Cricket World 2013