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Black Caps Head to Hamilton Needing to Improve

New Zealand’s unbeaten home summer of cricket came to an end in spectacular fashion last night. The Black Caps were trounced by the visiting South Africans in the series opening Twenty20 game held at an Eden Park ground that was as bleak as the Black Caps performance was.

The 78-run thrashing (albeit expected given South Africa’s superior T20 history) sets up an exciting five match series beginning at Seddon Park in Hamilton. We preview the series opener below:

The Last Time These Two Met

The Black Caps toured South Africa in August 2015 and lost the ODI series 2-1. With the series to play for in Durban in the final ODI, New Zealand faltered badly to be all out for 221 chasing 284. The loss compounded a tough series for the New Zealand side and a tough initiation for new captain Kane Williamson. This came after New Zealand’s clutch World Cup semi-final win at Eden Park

More recently, the teams competed in a series-opening Twenty20 match at Eden Park on Friday night. The tourists completely dominated the Black Caps in all facets of the game to set an ominous tone for the series.

The Teams

South Africa (from)

AB de Villiers (capt), Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi

Most of South Africa’s stars made contributions to the win on Friday night in Auckland. Particularly impressive were Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo who may not have been automatic selections for the ODI games, but who would have done their selection chances no harm.

New Zealand (from)

Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Neil Broom, Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, Dean Brownlie, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Ross Taylor.

Ross Taylor and Neil Broom are important additions to the ODI squad. The Black Caps middle order woes have been exposed in a few formats this year (and in the one-off T20 game), and the experienced pair will significantly strengthen the side. Dean Brownie will open the batting; in for the injured Martin Guptill. While Ish Sodhi is another spin option and might come into the equations in Hamilton, a ground he’s performed well at in the past.

The Key Players

South Africa

The celebratory runs each time he took a wicket may have been a tad over the top, but the praise that Imran Tahir received after his five wicket haul in the T20 was not. Tahir completely outfoxed the New Zealand batsman with his variations (the wrong un-especially effective) to take five wickets and underpin his credentials as the best ODI bowler in the world. The Black Caps worrying inability to pick the leg spinner will have Tahir eyeing up another haul of wickets.

New Zealand

If there was one positive note to come out the T20 loss on Friday night it was the performance of left-arm quick, Trent Boult. Boult’s incredible spell yielded two wickets for just eight runs and will have had IPL teams salivating about the prospect of snapping him up at the player auction tonight. Boult may be back to his best given his form from Friday and his resurgence against Australia in the home portion of the Chappell-Hadlee series.

The Match Odds*

South Africa – $1.61

New Zealand – $2.30

*All odds from Bet365.

The Prediction

South Africa was so impressive in the Twenty20 match at Eden Park that it is difficult to predict anything other than another win. It’s simply too hard to fathom a match where de Kock, Amla, de Villiers or du Plessis all fail – and that’s without even mentioning their bowlers. The Brown / Taylor middle order isn’t enough to offset the Protea’s class. South Africa by three wickets or 40 runs.

The Best Bets

We’ve previously noted Ish Sodhi’s great record at Seddon Park (his 2-31 against Australia last year the highlight) where he plays his domestic cricket. Thus at $5 to be the Top Wicket-taker he’s a nice chance.

If you’re keen to go all in on the leg spinners, Imran Tahir is slightly shorter at $4 but a great chance given his form and current ODI ranking.

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