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New Zealand vs South Africa: Fifth ODI Preview
Martin Guptill marked his return from injury with a memorable knock of 180* to drag New Zealand over the line in Hamilton on Wednesday.
Guptill’s heroics pulled the Black Caps level in the series with one game to go. Can the Proteas – who visit Eden Park for the first time since that semi-final – come out on top or will Kane Williamson and his men secure the series?
New Zealand vs South Africa | Saturday 4 March | Eden Park, Auckland | 03:00
To Win Match
New Zealand 27/20 | Tie 35/1 | South Africa 62/100
Guptill’s incredible display with the bat was probably the best One Day International innings since Quinton de Kock’s 178 against Australia at Centurion. The burly Aucklander’s knock was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he hadn’t played in a month due to a hamstring issue picked up against Australia.
New Zealand fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of seeing Guptill at Eden Park. He’s scored more ODI runs at the venue than anyone else in history having played significantly fewer innings than those below him.
While the temptation for the Proteas will be to tailor a game plan toward getting rid of Guptill early, it’s important that they don’t lose focus of the bigger picture. Ross Taylor has shown some good form recently while Kane Williamson is due a big innings himself. If the hero of Hamilton doesn't come off there's every chance that one of the other two premier New Zealand batsmen will get the job done.
The Eden Park deck isn’t likely to turn as the one in Hamilton so we’ll see Trent Boult and Tim Southee come back into their own with the spinners reverting back to their support roles. Mitchell Santner will start while Ish Sodhi could come back into the side of Jeetan Patel as a more attacking option.
I can’t for the life of me understand why AB de Villiers is batting so low down the order. He’s batted incredibly well on his return to international cricket, again displaying his class on Wednesday morning scoring and unbeaten 59-ball 72.
He was looking good and could have played a Guptill-esque innings if he’d had more time at the crease. Why the world’s premier limited overs batsman has 41 balls taken away from him so that JP Duminy can fiddle his way to 25 off 41 balls is beyond me.
Don’t get me wrong, Duminy is an excellent player in his own right, but his ability with the bat is far eclipsed by that of de Villiers – let’s hope we see AB batting at four behind Faf with Duminy and Miller arriving in the latter stages of the innings.
Bowling wise, I’d like to see Andile Phelukwayo come back into the side for Wayne Parnell. Both are properly good with the bat, however, I think Andile is a bit better with the ball – especially in limited overs cricket.
I do still think that the Proteas are a better ODI unit than the Black Caps and probably would have the series wrapped up already if they hadn’t rotated the squad so much. The rotation is understandable, however, as the coaching staff look for the best XI heading into the Champions Trophy.
Verdict: South Africa 62/100
I still maintain that the Proteas are the better of the two sides, even if they were comprehensively outplayed in the last match. Guptill can’t win games on his own every week – back a superior South African unit to clinch the series in Auckland at 62/100.
Value Bet: A hundred to be score in the match: No 1/1
Although both sides are blessed with some outstanding top order batsmen, there have only been two centuries scored so far in this series. With this in mind and the tricky batting conditions in Auckland, there’s a decent bit of value here at even money.