‘NZ came to PMB for victory’

2012-12-19 00:00

NEW Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum and his Black Caps started their South African tour on a winning note with a solid 24-run win against South Africa “A” in a T20 clash at the Pietermaritzburg Oval yesterday.

Enjoying sunny conditions after a run of rained-out matches, the Oval provided the perfect setting for the Kiwis to start their engines ahead of what is expected to be a demanding tour.

New Zealand batted first, and openers Rob Nicoll (zero) and Peter Fulton (five) were soon followed to the pavilion by James Franklin (10), whose promotion up the order to ignite some urgency into proceedings failed to materialise.

At 44 for three, it seemed the visitors would deliver the all-too-familiar New Zealand collapse, but McCullum (32) and Colin Munro (39) added some respectability, and Nathan McCullum waded in with an undefeated 22 in the closing overs.

While 140-8 wasn’t a demanding total, it proved too much for the disappointing South African batsmen.

Dolphins medium-pacer Kyle Abbott impressed with the ball, finishing with four for 16 in four tight overs.

The remaining wickets were shared between Roelof van der Merwe, Hardus Viljoen, Craig Alexander and David Wiese.

The South African response was poor and batsmen threw wickets away as the pressure mounted.

The top order failed completely as Davy Jacobs (four), Mangaliso Mosehle (five), Stiaan van Zyl (one) and Dane Vilas (11) were dispatched by left-arm medium pacer Mitchell McClenaghan, who bagged three for 19, with spinner Ronnie Hira taking 3-35.

Losing wickets regularly, the SA “A” batsmen were never allowed to settle and the 100 was reached with nine wickets down.

Only Dolphins batsman Vaughn van Jaarsveld, who had a solid domestic One-day Cup campaign, offered any resistance with a fighting 43.

It was always a losing battle, and it was the last wicket partnership of 21 between Aaron Phangiso (17*) and Abbott (9*) that gave some resistance.

This was the ideal start for McCullum and his men, who have been seen as easy opposition ahead of the tour and following the controversial sacking of captain Ross Taylor, and the sidelining of injured veteran spinner Daniel Vettori.

The win, with a team of new faces, gave McCullum much to smile about.

“We came here to Pietermaritzburg to win and give a good account of ourselves ahead of the business end of the tour, and we did that.

“We defended well and the bowlers found their mark early.

“The batting still needs to settle, but the win has given us the confidence we need heading into the first T20 international in Durban,” he said.

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