With the series all tied up at two a piece, we head to Auckland for the decider in what has been a very entertaining series.
Returning from injury, Black Caps excitement machine Martin Guptill turned it on under the bright lights of Hamilton and gave the South African bowlers an absolute flogging with the willow. Guptill’s unbeaten 180 off just 138 deliveries consisted of 15 fours and 11 sixes striking at 130.43, it was an innings that made you quickly forget about the previous four matches after something as special as that. The return of the big-hitting Kiwi opener has not only given New Zealand that X factor they desperately needed, but also gives them a golden opportunity to take out the series against a strong South African outfit. The bowling hasn’t been as effective as it’s been in the past, particularly in the wickets category where no bowler from either team has had a stand out series which is quite strange given these wickets are evenly contested between bat and ball. Martin Guptill’s innings aside, Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson and veteran batsman Ross Taylor have both played their part in the series with the bat, Williamson has scored two fifties whilst Taylor has managed a fifty and an unbeaten century in Christchurch. Williamson used seven different bowlers in the last ODI including himself, that’s a key indication that South Africa have no hesitation in targeting the Black Caps strike bowlers.
The most recent game was the first time in along time that the South African bowlers had been comprehensively beaten and dominated by a batting team, it’s usually the other way around. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir holds the key to South Africa taking out this series away from home, he’s a genuine wicket taker who is often hard to score boundaries off which more often than not leads to a lot of unconvincing shots from opposition batsmen. Similar to New Zealand, the Proteas have had two stand out batsmen for the series who’ve been both consistent and effective, I speak of Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers. Already labelled as one of the up and coming superstars of the game, de Kock has once again shown why he’s in the side, scoring three half centuries in a row before failing for the first time in the series last match. The man known as Mr. 360 is still producing that AB-brilliance that has spanned-out through the entirety of his career, scores of 37*, 45, 85 & 72* in the series spell out nothing but consistency, exactly what South African cricket represents. Expect the unexpected in this fifth and final match, South Africa’s batting depth will be a huge key to success if this Auckland wicket decides to sway in favor of the bowlers, but it’s been very much a batsman’s series so runs on the board will be crucial for the team batting first.
New Zealand’s top 4 key players | 5th ODI | Auckland
- Martin Guptill – After last games onslaught in his scintillating return, there weren’t a lot of areas on the pitch that could keep Guptill quiet and that might be a big problem yet again heading into Auckland.
- Kane Williamson – Almost every match he threatens to score big, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to accumulate that innings yet. With two 50+ scores in the series, this could be the skippers day.
- Trent Boult – Has been tested so far in the series, usually an effective wicket-taker who strikes a lot more than of recent. Boult is the Black Caps key to defeating SA, some early breakthroughs and they’re on top.
- Ross Taylor – The Black Caps No. 4 seems to have recaptured that hunger for runs again and has already scored a superb century in the series. Taylor is also coming off a 66 in Hamilton.
South Africa top 4 key players | 5th ODI | Auckland
- Quinton de Kock – The 24-year-old has played a key role so far in the series for South Africa, scoring three 50+ scores in his four games. De Kock will be heavily relied upon for quick runs against the new ball again.
- Imran Tahir – It’s been a difficult series for the bowlers, and Tahir has been among them. He made some vital breakthroughs in the last match, Tahir is in the team to take wickets and he might be in for a bag in this one.
- AB de Villiers – Hasn’t put a foot wrong so far in the series, averaging 119.50 with two 70+ scores in typical AB fashion. There’s nothing to suggest he’s slowing down, SA’s game breaker in the middle-order.
- Dwaine Pretorius – Since debuting for SA, Pretorius has been a wicket taker with batting ability in the lower order. His amazing figures of 3/5 in Wellington shows that he’s got what it takes to break a game open.
Team News | New Zealand
With Broom and Latham horribly out of form, it’s unlikely the batting line-up will be tweaked again. Tim Southee could find himself in a spot of bother, going for 60+ runs in his past three outings with the ball. Lockie Ferguson would be the likely replacement given Matt Henry hasn’t played a game in the series so far.
New Zealand (possible) – 1. Martin Guptill 2. Dean Brownlie 3. Kane Williamson (c) 4. Ross Taylor 5. James Neesham 6. Luke Ronchi (wk) 7. Mitchell Santner 8. Colin de Grandhomme 9. Tim Southee/Lockie Ferguson 10. Jeetan Patel 11. Trent Boult.
Team News | South Africa
South Africa will have to weigh up their options with David Miller who hasn’t returned with a bang as expected, he’s scored just 3 & 1 in his last two innings. Farhaan Behardien is in contention for his spot, but a duck in his only game of the series makes it difficult to see. Chris Morris could be on the outer after two wicket-less games after a four-wicket haul in the first match, Andile Phehlukwayo the likely replacement who was impressive in Wellington.
South Africa (possible) – 1. Hashim Amla 2. Quinton de Kock (wk) 3. Faf du Plessis 4. JP Duminy 5. AB de Villiers (c) 6. David Miller/Farhaan Behardien 7. Dwaine Pretorius 8. Chris Morris/Andile Phehlukwayo 9. Wayne Parnell 10. Kagiso Rabada 11. Imran Tahir.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.