Cape Town - Captain AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis both hit half centuries, but it was not enough as Martin Guptill’s fine ton helped New Zealand to a series-levelling, seven-wicket win over the Proteas in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Wednesday.
The Black Caps’ opener was in majestic form as he plundered 11 sixes and 15 fours in his unbeaten 180 from 138 balls to help the hosts chase down their 280 target with a full five overs to spare.
Ross Taylor also played an important role for the home side with his more restrained 66 (97 balls, 7 fours, 1 six), and along with Guptill, put on 180 together for the third wicket, as New Zealand squared the series at 2-2. It means their clash at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday will decide the five-match contest.
De Villiers had won the toss and batted first at the start with a powerful final 10 overs key to propelling them to 279/8.
There were 106 runs scored in that period, but before that there was a rare duck for Quinton de Kock, while Hashim Amla (40) helped Du Plessis, who made 67 (97 balls, 4 fours), add 65 for the second wicket.
Another 62 followed between JP Duminy (25) and Du Plessis, which was tailed by both men falling in a difficult middle period when David Miller (1) and Dwaine Pretorius (10) also departed - the away side slipping from 128/2 to 158/6.
That left them in a huge hole, but De Villiers crunched 72 (59 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) and again marshalled the tail excellently to help post a competitive total.
He put on 58 with Chris Morris (28 from 27 balls) and 63 with Wayne Parnell (29 from 12 balls) for the seventh and eighth wickets respectively, handing the South Africans the advantage at half-way.
Despite Kagiso Rabada (1/41) getting Dean Brownlie (4) early and Imran Tahir (2/56) accounting for Kane Williamson (21), they were then dominated by Guptill, whose 12th ODI ton was also the fourth highest second-innings score in ODI history.
The result was bad news for South Africa in terms of the ICC ODI rankings, as they surrendered top spot to Australia.