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In what can be called as New Zealand’s one of the most dominant win over a competent rival, the hosts decimated South Africa by 7 wickets in the 4th ODI at Hamilton to level the series 2-2 and book a final at Auckland. The final of the series is of greater relevance as both try to gain the psychological benefit by having a series win under their belt with the Champions Trophy looming.
The contest has been well-fought thus far but New Zealand, who are on the verge of winning their 8th bilateral series in a row at home, looks in-form after the Hamilton show. South Africa, though, start as the least favourites this time.
South Africa would expect their middle order to come to the party. Skipper AB de Villiers has ensured that the inconsistency does not affect them much but he would certainly expect the likes of JP Duminy and David Miller to register big knock on a decisive day.
De Villiers also defended Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris who could not do well on the slow-ish surface at Hamilton. However, Auckland is expected to be quicker than the previous track and should excite the quick men.
Also, Andile Phelukwayo, who missed the match with a groin problem, may swap places with either one of Parnell or Morris. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir can also create an impact as he like surfaces with a bounce on offer. Opener Hashim Amla, whose form looked like concern got off to a good start and should be at his best in the decider.
The return of Martin Guptill has made the side look much stronger than before. Off-spinner Jeetan Patel who made it to the starting XI for the previous game, may not retain the place as Matt Henry or Lockie Ferguson would most likely make a comeback. Tim Southee and Trent Boult have been in great form throughout the series and would be prepared for the steel encounter.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Dean Brownlie, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson/Matt Henry, Trent Boult
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (C), JP Duminy, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo/Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir
- New Zealand has won just two of their nine one-day series against South Africa: 2004 at home and 2013 away.
- In 73 ODIs at Eden Park, New Zealand has same win-loss ratios; 34 wins and 34 losses (with two ties and three no results)
- AB de Villiers averages 203 against New Zealand on their home soil. He has only been dismissed three times in 11 innings. The most runs by a visiting batsman to New Zealand in a series of up to five matches is Rahul Dravid’s 309 in 1998-99 – De Villiers is on 239.
The Match Begins At 6.30 AM IST
Who Said What?
“There is no need to panic. I believe our top order is the best in the world and will come to the party when it matters most which is hopefully the next game,” say AB de Villiers.
“I don’t think either side has played the perfect game. There have been patches of brilliance but not a complete performance,” Tim Southee.