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Chance for NZ, SA to Break Series Deadlock

New Zealand finally managed to break South Africa’s long standing unbeaten one day international cricket streak with a tight 6-run win in Christchurch on Wednesday. The win, built around a solid first innings total and some excellent death bowling, gives the series much-needed context, rather than the prospect of a rampant runaway away side.

The close nature of the two completed games suggests another close one may be on the cards at Westpac Stadium. The teams have played twice at the venue before with one win apiece. AB de Villiers will have fond memories of the ground, he scored 106* here in 2012 to win South Africa the game.

The Series So Far

Game one was a rip-roaring affair that went down to the final over. The result was a win to South Africa by four wickets.

Game two was awfully similar. Down to the last over again, this time New Zealand managed to get their death bowling in order to sneak a win by 6 runs. The win was built around solid contributions from Ross Taylor (102*), Jimmy Neesham (71*) and Kane Williamson (69), but at the halfway stage, New Zealand’s 289 looked to be about 20 runs short on an excellent surface.

South Africa’s chase again looked on course at 192-4, before middle over wobbles saw the wheels briefly fall off at 214-8. The optimism was restored with a fighting ninth-wicket partnership of 61 between Pretorius and Phehlukwayo only for Tim South and Trent Boult to produce 10 un-hittable block hole deliveries.

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

There was no surprise to see Behardien lose his place in the side after his struggles and David Miller contributed to a much more balanced side. The Proteas desperately missed Kagiso Rabada and will be hanging out for his return to full fitness.

New Zealand (from)

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

Tom Latham is under huge pressure after struggling to make an impact in the series thus far. Wearing the gloves seems to be an imposition he hasn’t been able to deal with. NZ will probably remain unchanged, but the Sodhi vs Ferguson debate will probably be had again on the morning of the match.

The Key Players

South Africa

Quinton de Kock hasn’t looked in the best form since he’s arrived in New Zealand, but he hasn’t let that stop his scoring. After a duck in the T20 game, de Kock responded nicely with 69 in the opening one-dayer despite struggling with his timing early (although most others did too). And then 57 on Wednesday in Christchurch. It’a measure of his ability that he turned the difficult starts into a score, although surprising he didn’t turn either fifties into a hundred. His conversion rate is incredible, 12 hundreds and 11 fifties, and the fifty and out was a surprise ending on both occasions.

New Zealand

Colin de Grandhomme probably should’ve played more cricket for the Black Caps than he has. A devastating all-rounder at domestic level, de Grandhomme has struggled to find his feet at international level. However, recent performances might be indicating that the footing is getting a little more stable. de Grandhomme has made important contributions with both bat and ball in the opening two games of the tour, 34* off 19 balls in the ODI; 15 off 7 in the T20 and 2-22 with the ball in the T20. It’s these ‘bits and pieces’ contributions that make him a valuable all-rounder and a high strike rate cameo could be the difference between NZ winning and losing.

The Match Odds*

South Africa – $1.55

New Zealand – $2.45

*All odds from Unibet.

The Prediction

New Zealand has a lot of players contributing to their success. Bowlers are sharing wickets, batsmen are in the runs (excluding Latham) and we think that’s enough to give them a win here by 5 wickets or 30 runs.

The Best Bets

Casting aside some individual player betting markets for a second, we’ve found a near certainty. Okay, so nothing’s a certainty, but South Africa to have the higher opening partnership (Amla and de Kock) at $1.72 looks easy money. Tom Latham can’t buy a run.

Individually, Chris Morris is priced at $4.25 to be South Africa’s top bowler. He’s swung the ball both ways in the opening two outings and is a nice option again.

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