South Africa took the early initiative in their three-game ODI series against New Zealand with a six-wicket win in Mt Maunganui today.

  Chasing New Zealand’s modest 231, after they’d been sent in, South Africa completed the job with 11 balls to spare.

 Captain AB de Villiers and JP Duminy shared a 139-run unbeaten stand for the fifth wicket to ease any worries as they slipped to 97 for four, De Villiers pacing himself in an 85-ball innings for 89 not out. Duminy finished the game with a six, and reached 58.

  Trent Boult gave New Zealand’s defence some early joy with two wickets inside his first four overs, and New Zealand fielded energetically to make life difficult for the tourists. However once De Villiers and Duminy settled in, they had the job well in hand.

 New Zealand’s innings was a largely ordinary effort, except a fine knock from wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi. Had it not been for his blazing 99 off 83 balls – falling one short of what would have been a maiden ODI century, New Zealand would have been in a sorry state. He shared a 65-run stand for the sixth wicket with Tom Latham,who made a handy 29, and a 10th-wicket record stand with Boult of 74, eclipsing Martin Snedden and Ewen Chatfield’s 65 against Sri Lanka at the 1983 World Cup.

   Luke Ronchi struck 11 fours and three sixes – taking 16 in three balls from the usually tightfisted Vernon Philander at one point – before touching a catch to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off Dale Steyn. That gave de Kock a sixth dismissal, equalling the record for a South African wicketkeeper in an ODI, set by Mark Boucher against Pakistan at Cape Town seven years ago.

 At one stage New Zealand lost three for none in the space of eight balls, falling to 68 for five. Thanks largely to Ronchi, they got themselves out of a hole to the extent of giving the bowlers something to work with.

AB de Villiers is Man Of The Match for his fine knock of 89* to win the game for his side.

The second ODI is scheduled on Friday at the same ground.

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