South Africa vs New Zealand | Friday 14 August | Kingsmead, Durban | 18:00
The memories of a lost home ODI series in January 2013 will still be fresh in the minds of the Proteas as they welcome the culprits, New Zealand. Perhaps more likely to strike a chord is the lost World Cup semi-final of this year and the heartbreak that accompanied it. South Africa will probably be pleased to begin with a T20 series and work out their best combinations going forward. The Proteas will also probably feel that they hold some sort of upper hand after easily defeating New Zealand in their limited overs tour of the country last year.
To Win Match
South Africa 11/20
New Zealand 29/20
The Proteas would have left Bangladesh rather downcast given the way that that tour started and ended. South Africa experienced little resistance to a T20 series win but came up short in the subsequent ODI series. The heavens then proceeded to open up and flush the South Africans out of the country with no result possible in either of the Test matches. There was a degree of rotation employed for the trip to Bangladesh but the Proteas have opted for as close to a full-strength side as possible for the limited overs contests ahead. Morne Morkel and JP Duminy with miss the series on paternity leave, while Morne van Wyk has been included at the expense of the out of form Quinton de Kock. David Wiese has also earned a call-up and will scrap for the all-rounder spot with a somewhat disappointing Farhaan Behardien. Imran Tahir has been rested for the T20 internationals and Eddie Leie has been given a chance to push for World T20 contention in the only change to the spin contingent. The Proteas will aware that Bangladesh is associated with a World Cup hangover and that the public will be none too pleased with any indiscretions at home.
The Black Caps brushed aside Zimbabwe on their recent tour despite losing the opening ODI to the African minnows. New Zealand will be ready for a repeat of their last tour of South Africa and having bested the hosts in the World Cup semi-final, will hope to hold the psychological edge. Openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham both recorded centuries in the second ODI against Zimbabwe to chase down 235 for a ten wicket win. Although Latham is unlikely to feature in the opening T20 with Kane Williamson preferred at the top of the order for the shortest format, he will be one to watch in the coming weeks. Williamson is in fine form in ODI cricket with six consecutive fifty-plus scores. The only glaring omission from the squad comes in the form of Brendon McCullum, the captain rested and Williamson named as his stand-in. Ross Taylor will also play no part in the series as he has been ruled out with a groin injury. Jimmy Neesham is likely to fill his spot in the batting order.
The Proteas have played five T20 internationals at Kingsmead and the results have been split down the middle. Two have been won, two lost and one abandoned with no result. Most importantly, the Proteas beat New Zealand in a T20 at the ground in 2012 after the Black Caps were bowled out for 86. The weather report is clear for the evening.
VERDICT: New Zealand 29/20
The Black Caps come into the series having played the better cricket over the last few weeks. While South Africa seem rather unsure of their best combinations, the Black Caps side has adapted well to fit in exciting youth. New Zealand have also proved a thorn in the side of the Proteas in the limited overs arena in recent times and are great value for the win at 29/20.