Centurion - Hashim Amla scored a South African record 21st
ODI century to set the Proteas up for a 20-run victory over New Zealand in the
first ODI at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
His partnership of 185 for the second wicket with Rilee
Rossouw was the essential difference between the two sides as New Zealand were
unable to put together a stand of similar magnitude.
The Kiwis were nevertheless in with a chance of winning most
of the way through their innings until they lost two wickets in an over to the
bowling of Vernon Philander.
Imran Tahir had the best figures for South Africa of 2/40
while Philander also showed excellent form. He bowled no fewer than 26 dot
balls in his opening spell of 31 deliveries and then came back to take two
wickets in his second spell.
Tom Latham (60 off 80 balls, 6 fours and a six) and Kane
Williamson (47 off 69 balls, 4 fours and a six) gave New Zealand the platform
they needed with a second wicket partnership of 194 in 21 overs but apart from
the 71-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Jimmy Neesham and Colin
Munro, they were unable to build on that effort.
Amla and Rossouw’s partnership for the Proteas was their
third major one during the current calendar year. They shared two partnerships
of 247 against the West Indies at the Wanderers and SuperSport Park in January
before Wednesday’s effort of 185 which improved the previous second wicket
record partnership against New Zealand of 172 achieved by Gary Kirsten and
Jacques Kallis in Kimberley some 15 years ago.
Interestingly, Rossouw batted Nos. 2 and 4 for his two
centuries against the West Indies and No. 3 on Wednesday which underlines his
versatility and adaptability.
Amla’s century (124 off 126 balls, 13 fours and 3 sixes) was
his 21st and thus equalled the South African ODI record held by Herschelle
New Zealand opened the bowling with Nathan McCullum, which
was a surprise move, not because they used a spinner which is a regular
practice in ODI cricket, but because Williamson had won the toss and opted to
Having taken that decision with two spinners in their
line-up the expected New Zealand tactic would be to have a full go with their
frontline seamers, Adam Milne and Matthew McClenaghan, and exploit the moisture
in the surface.
The batting conditions were, in fact, not easy in the first
10 to 20 overs. This was born out by Amla playing 33 dot balls in compiling his
first 50 runs, this from a batsman whose one of many great strengths is his
ability to keep dot balls to a minimum.
As always, Amla got his strike rate up to a run a ball by
the end of his innings before being bowled by a low full toss from Milne that
tailed in late as reverse swing became an effective weapon in the closing
Milne, in spite of bowling a few wides up front when he did
not get his wrist behind the ball, was easily the pick of the Kiwi attack and
deserved better figures than 2/51 from his 10 overs.
McClenaghan also picked up a key wicket in Rossouw (89 off
112 balls, 6 fours and 3 sixes) but tended to be erratic in his control of
The pleasing thing about Rossouw’s innings was his ability
to tough it out under difficult conditions and this was an important learning
curve for his international career. Normally he likes to hit boundaries up
front but this time he had to graft his way.
The New Zealand fielding was not up to its usual high
standards with Rossouw (on 32) and Amla (74) offering chances that were not
accepted. They nevertheless managed to restrict South Africa to 85/6 in the
closing 10 overs.
Amla was the obvious choice as man-of-the-match.
The second of the three matches will be played at Senwes Park,
Potchefstroom, on Sunday (10:00 start).