Young guns make short work of NZ

2012-12-22 00:00

VARIABLE bounce and an over-ambitious approach to the game saw New Zealand humbled by eight wickets in the first T20 against the Proteas at Kingsmead yesterday.

Talk in cricketing circles indicating the tourists would be no match for the Proteas in all formats of the game proved grimly true, as the visitors battled to come to grips against a rampant attack that used the conditions to their advantage.

Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum won the toss and opted for first hit on a wicket that looked good for batting.

His decision was soon turned on its head as Faf du Plessis, making his debut as Proteas captain, rotated his bowlers early, never allowing the New Zealanders to settle.

Bowling just back of a length and extracting solid bounce from the wicket, the Protea bowlers gained an early advantage and never let go as an array of poor shots saw an endless procession of New Zealand batsmen to and from the pavilion.

Adopting an aggressive attitude, the New Zealand top order paid dearly for trying to take on the Protea bowlers, charging down the wicket and offering easy chances for the fielders as the bounce proved too much.

With the top and middle order, including the dangerous McCullum, back in the hut with the score on 36-6, there was no way back, and it was a matter of how much New Zealand would ask South Africa to chase.

In the end, it was a rather mediocre 87, after the visitors were all out for 86 in 18.2 overs, with debutant Colin Munro (23) scoring the best with the bat.

Rory Kleinveldt justified his selection with with figures of 3-18 in 3.2 overs, bowling a superb length and attacking the batsmen with the short ball. He was supported by Dale Steyn (2-13), debutant Chris Morris (2-19) and Robin Peterson (2-8).

It was a matter of how quickly South Africa would chase down the target, and New Zealand were hoping for early wickets.

They got one when Richard Levi again failed at international level, edging the impressive Mitchell McClenaghan to Peter Fulton at slip for a duck. Fellow opener Henry Davids, after a shaky start, settled well to make an entertaining 20 before falling to left-arm spinner Roni Hira.

That was the end of the New Zealand celebrations for the night as another debutant, Quinton de Kock (28*), and Du Plessis (38*) saw the Proteas home by eight wickets in an unbroken third wicket partnership of 42.

De Kock played with confidence and freedom, while Du Plessis continued his form from the Australian tour, adapting well to the shortest format of the game and finding captaincy rather easy. With 47 balls to spare, it was all too simple.

McCullum said: “Obviously ,there are a few areas that are not right. We missed the fundamentals and were never good enough.

“We were exposed in our aggressive approach but, having said that, we need to put the opposition under pressure by being aggressive in this format. We were keen, a little too keen, but I can’t fault our attitude.”

Du Plessis had no complaints, saying: “The game went along at a million miles an hour, but I enjoyed it and could not have asked for anything better.

“There was energy in the field, great bowling and sensible batting to see us home.

“It’s set the standard for the three-match T20 series and we move to East London with confidence.”

Kleinveldt was man of the match, saying that hard work in the nets had improved his game since his below average Test debut in Australia. The second match in the series is at Buffalo Park, East London, tomorrow, starting at 6 pm.

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