South Africa managed to clinch the ODI series against New Zealand as they won the final match in Auckland handsomely by bundling their opponents out for a meagre 149 in the first innings. They chased down the target with 6 wickets and 17.4 overs to spare. The result also meant that New Zealand’s unbeaten streak in terms of ODI series at home since 2014 came to an end. Coincidentally, the last team to defeat New Zealand in a bilateral ODI series at home were South Africa themselves. The venue of this win would also help to erase previous bad memories for South Africa as it was the same ground where South Africa were heartbreakingly knocked out of the World Cup in 2015 at Eden Park in Auckland.
The visitors never let the New Zealand batsmen away as they started off by picking up wickets at regular intervals. Kagiso Rabada opened with a fiery spell of bowling and prized out Martin Guptill’s wicket who was fresh from scoring an 180 in the previous match and ended up being the Man of the Match for picking up three wickets in the game. All the bowlers barring, Dwaine Pretorius picked up wickets and looked impressive especially Imran Tahir who bowled a very economic spell giving away just 14 runs in his quota of 10 overs and picking up two wickets. The pitch was better suited to bowlers but New Zealand were not allowed to make a competitive total as South Africa eventually cruised to victory after an early hiccup when they lost both their openers cheaply.
The South African camp is brimming with confidence after their impressive run in ODIs as this series win comes after blanking out Australia and Sri Lanka 5-0 and 3-0 respectively at home. The team’s talismanic batsman, AB de Villiers said that he had never experienced such positivity in the team as he can now. That puts South Africa as strong contenders for the upcoming Champions Trophy in June like always but with such a positive attitude evident in the team, it will be interesting to see if they can finally manage to execute their plans and shed the tag of being chokers in international ICC events.