Potchefstroom: New Zealand have made a remarkable comeback in the ODI series by defeating South Africa to take an unassailable 2-0 lead after they were whitewashed 0-2 in the Tests. Though the series is already sealed, both teams have something to play for in the final match at Potchefstroom.
While New Zealand are looking to become the first team to whitewash South Africa in ODIs on home soil, the hosts will look to avert an embarrassment and gain momentum for the Pakistan series.
South Africa are marred by the absence of many of their key players - Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers -which has weakened their batting substantially. Amla is suffering from a thigh strain while de Villiers is serving a two-match ban due to a slow over-rate in the first ODI. Mitchell McClenaghan, who was making his ODI debut, and James Franklin stunned South Africa in the first match by pulling off a thrilling one-wicket victory. McClenaghan snapped up four wickets while Franklin cracked an unbeaten 47 to take his team home.
Kane Williamson blasted an unbeaten 145 in the second match and the visitors displayed a sparkling fielding effort to beat South Africa by 27 runs in the second ODI. Despite winning the first two games, New Zealand have a problem to address as their top order collapsed in both the matches. Martin Guptill was out for a duck in both matches while Brendon McCullum too has failed to contribute anything of note. BJ Watling scored 45 in the second ODI to give some respite to the Kiwis but their batting at present relies mostly on Williamson who has looked their best batsman so far in the series. He also chalked up four wickets in the first match.
South Afica would hope Graeme Smith and Faf du Plessis come good. Quinton de Kock is an exciting wicketkeeper-batsman but still wet behind the ears and need to acclimatise to the rigours of international cricket. Colin Ingram and David Miller are talented but yet to show their mettle.
New Zealand's bowling attack has proved more effective than South Africa in this series. McClenaghan and Kyle Mills form a good fast-bowling pair while Franklin was handy in the middle overs. Williamson and Nathan McCullum are decent offspinners capable of stemming the run flow. South Africa missed Dale Steyn in the second match and though Morne Morkel snaffled three wickets, he leaked a lot of runs. Ryan McLaren picked up four wickets in the match but sprayed the ball around in the second match. Lonwabo Tsotsobe has looked most consistent among all their bowlers.
The pitch at Senwes Park is a belter and the team batting second has won the four out of the last five matches played on this ground.
South Africa: 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Dean Elgar, 4 Colin Ingram, 5 Farhaan Behardien, 6 Faf du Plessis (capt), 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Rory Kleinveldt, 9 Aaron Phangiso, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 BJ Watling, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Brendon McCullum (capt/wk), 5 Grant Elliott, 6 Colin Munto, 7 James Franklin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan