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S Africa cruise to win over New Zealand

S Africa cruise to win over New Zealand
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South Africa cruised to a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the first One-day International at Mount Maunganui on Tuesday, guided home by a captain’s knock from AB de Villiers.

The Proteas ended their run chase at 236-4 in 48.1 overs, easily overhauling the 231 target New Zealand set after losing the toss and being sent in to bat.

De Villiers top-scored for South Africa with 89, ably supported by JP Duminy (58), who combined with his skipper for a 139-run partnership when the Proteas were looking wobbly at 97-4.

Wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi’s gritty 99 was the standout performance for the Black Caps but he had little support apart from unlikely strike partner Trent Boult, with whom he set a New Zealand record 10th-wicket stand of 74. The three-match series is essentially a World Cup warm-up for both sides as New Zealand prepares to co-host the tournament next year.

However, South Africa could also overtake Australia as the world’s top ranked ODI team if they complete a 3-0 whitewash over the Black Caps, who are ranked seventh.

De Villiers said he was pleased with the side’s performance, aside from his bowlers’ failure to snuff out the dogged resistance of Ronchi and Boult. ‘We’ve got to finish big games of cricket, especially big games of cricket coming up, I’m thinking of World Cups and must wins. In the World Cup, if you get teams to nine down you have to finish them off,’ he said.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said he was pleased at his side’s fightback after losing early wickets and the return of veteran all rounder Dan Vettori after 15 months on the sidelines. ‘There were some fighting qualities there but unfortunately the class of AB and JP towards the end meant we couldn’t win,’ he said. The next match on Friday is also in Mount Maunganui, with the series wrapping up in Hamilton on October 27.

BRIEFSCORES SA 236 for 4 (De Villiers 89*, Duminy 58*) beat New Zealand 230 (Luke Ronchi 99, Tahir 2-37) by six wickets.
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