The deciding match of the ODI series between New Zealand and South Africa comes back to Eden Park, the ground where both these teams share a small history between them. The 2015 world cup semi-final saw the Kiwis knock the Proteas out in a last over thriller. On the other hand, South Africa had a comprehensive 78 run win over New Zealand in the one-off T20I held earlier this tour at the same venue.
Both the teams have lots at stake. South Africa need to win to regain the No.1 ICC ODI ranking that they lost in the fourth ODI. The Kiwis on the other hand are defending a record of eight straight home ODI series wins. A final showdown between these two teams at Eden Park is expected to be a cracker of a match after the five match ODI series stats level at 2-2.
On the Radar
The series is leveled on the back of Martin Guptill’s man of the match unbeaten 138 ball 180. He could be the man to watch out for the all-important final. Having had a terrific start in 2017 with scores of 62 against Australia and 180 in his previous match, Guptill will look to extent his good run. The Aucklander has a good record playing at home in his last seven innings at Eden Park. He has failed to go past fifty run mark only twice and averages 66.8 in his home ground in ODIs.
His presence in the team seems to have solved New Zealand’s top order woes. One of the key reasons why New Zealand could win the 2nd ODI is the partnership they were able to develop. They were able to add 144 runs for the 2nd and 3rd wicket respectively.
In the fourth ODI, New Zealand added an aggregate of 252 for the 2nd and 3rd wicket, Guptill being the key batsmen in this case. His presence has also brought in the depth and experience New Zealand needed in the playing XI. Three among the top four batsmen, Guptill, Williamson and Taylor for New Zealand have more than 100 ODI caps.
No one came into the ODI series with a bigger reputation than Imran Tahir. He is currently the No.1 ranked bowler in the limited over formats, but has had a quite series so far. In first four ODIs, he has taken only four wickets with an average of 45.5 and an economy of 5.87. However he will return to Eden Park high on confidence after he finished with match figures of 5/24 in the one-off T20I.
South Africa’s middle order Woes
South Africa have had middle order collapse throughout the series, which has resulted in scrutiny of underperforming JP Duminy and Miller. Duminy has last registered a score of over fifty 8 innings ago, having made only one 30+ score in that period. Miller on the other hand has had scores of 28, 3 and 1 in the series so far. South Africa will want both of them to develop a partnership in between as their wicket in quick succession has resulted in a middle-order collapse.
On the brighter side they had had some good contribution from lower order batsmen. Pretorius, Parnell, Morris and Phehlukwayo have all contributed when the team needed them the most. They have had three fifty plus runs partnership in four innings for the seventh wicket so far. But in the all-important final clash South Africa would want the same from their top six batsmen as none of them have produced century so far in the series.
Cricket-21’s likely XI
New Zealand are a team who believe in horses for courses rule will in all likelihood bring in a pacer in place of a spinner. Matt Henry or Ben Wheeler are likely to feature in playing XI in place of Jeetan Patel.
New Zealand Likely Playing XI: 1. Martin Guptill, 2 Dean Brownlie, 3 Kane Williamson(C), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Luke Rochi(w/k), 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Colin de Grandhomme, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Matt Henry/Ben Wheeler, 11 Trent Boult
After repeated failures from both JP Duminy and David Miller, the proteas will look at one of them to fire going into this virtual final. Captain AB de Villiers wouldn’t want to tinker with their best XI looking ahead to the Champions Trophy and will be hoping their big guns come good in such crunch situations.
South Africa Likely Playing XI: 1. Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock(w/k), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers(C), 5 David Miller, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Wayne Parnell, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Imraan Tahir