Batsman AB De Villiers and JP Duminy completed what seamer Vernon Philander and leg-spinner Imran Tahir started, as South Africa comfortably beat New Zealand by six wickets in the first ODI at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
De Villiers and Duminy came together with the match slightly in the balance at the midway stage of the South African innings, with the total on 97 for four in pursuit of a target of 231 and they finished the match superbly by largely playing orthodox low-risk cricket.
De Villiers, who played pretty, conservative cricket in comparison with his normal way of doing things, still managed a strike-rate of more than 100 percent with his unbeaten 89 off 85 balls with nine fours, while Duminy was equally impressive (58 not out off 72 balls, three fours and two sixes).
Their unbeaten partnership of 139 was one better than the previous fifth-wicket record against New Zealand of 138 by Jonty Rhodes and Mark Boucher in Perth in the 2001-02 season.
The pitch was typically on the slow side with a tennis ball bounce, which did not make strokeplay easy, which made the De Villiers-Duminy partnership (139 in 23.2 overs at 5.95) all the more impressive.
It was a convincing all-round performance for the Proteas as they quickly switched back into gear after their brief international break and controlled the game throughout, apart from a brief spell of 10 overs at the start of the New Zealand Powerplay that enabled the hosts to recover from 156 for nine to 230 all out. This was due to a partnership of 74 between Luke Ronchi (99 off 83 balls, 11 fours and three sixes) and Trent Boult.
Vernon Philander made the early breakthroughs, having the Black Caps two down for 35 inside 10 overs and then Imran Tahir and Morne Morkel took three wickets between them in eight balls to reduce New Zealand to 68 for five. From there it was going to be very difficult to get back into the match and they did well to set their final target.
Quinton de Kock provided the 14th instance of a wicketkeeper making six dismissals in an ODI innings (five catches and a stumping) to join the likes of Boucher and Adam Gilchrist, who did it on no fewer than six occasions. It also brought up de Kock’s 50th dismissal in ODI cricket and he is averaging a remarkable two dismissals per innings.
Philander returned to the Proteas line-up after missing the triangular series in Zimbabwe through a hamstring injury, while a throat infection kept David Miller out of action. This provided a further opportunity for Rilee Rossouw.