|Scorecard:||South Africa v New Zealand|
|Event:||New Zealand in South Africa 2012/13|
DateLine: 21st December 2012
South Africa v New Zealand
1st T20I 2012
Three T20 Internationals open New Zealand's tour of South Africa which takes place at Kingsmead, Durban today.
This tour comprises of these three T20's with East London hosting the second match on Sunday and Port Elizabeth the third on Boxing Day. Thereafter we will have two test matches and three ODI's. Let's focus purely on the T20's and begin with the squads.
Both teams have made a change in terms of their skipper with Faf du Plessis taking over from AB de Villiers and Brendon McCullum replacing Ross Taylor. Wayne Parnell was originally selected but misses out through injury with Ryan McLaren coming in whilst de Villiers is a late withdrawal and Justin Ontong gets a call up.
Quinton de Kock will play as the wicketkeeper for South Africa in the absence of AB de Villiers. Richard Levi will have a new opening partner in another new face who is Henry Davids. Aaron Phangiso is another player who is expected to make his debut in the 1st T20 against New Zealand as the bowling attack will have two spinners. Dale Steyn will partner one of Rory Kleinveldt and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
The Proteas won a three match series 2-1 in New Zealand in March this year, losing the first match by six wickets at Wellingon before hitting back to win in Hamilton (5 wickets) and Auckland (3 runs). Richard Levi's unbeaten 117 off just 51 balls in Hamilton was the highlight of the series.
With the Proteas' ascension to the upper echelon of test cricket, there has been a great deal of joy and optimism to replace the frustration of watching another major limited overs competition slip away from the South Africans. The competition I'm referring to is, of course, the World T20 held in Sri Lanka earlier this year. The Proteas failed to form opening partnerships of substance which saw them consistently below the run-rate required for a par score. It has resulted in an overhaul, and a new look squad with a fresh approach.
Selector Andrew Hudson has indicated that they are searching for a wicket-keeper in the mould of Adam Gilchrist, both a batsman and a gloveman. Although they have this in de Villiers, it is clear that his body is battling with the workload and with Kallis' career starting to reach it's inevitable end, de Villiers will be forced to take a senior role at number four in the middle-order in future. Hudson and the selectors would like to find another wicket-keeper for this eventuality, so that AB can concentrate on batting and captaincy. JP Duminy is injured and has been replaced in the squad by David Miller.
Captaincy drama has taken centre stage in New Zealand's preparation as well, which is not ideal for a side that shows flashes of what is required, but for the most part look somewhat flat and devoid of ideas. New Zealand's administration wished to appoint Brendon McCullum as the captain for the limited overs formats, suggesting a split-captaincy, with Ross Taylor continuing to the lead the test side. This was all a little bit too painful and confusing for Taylor, who promptly resigned the test captaincy and refused to tour South Africa. Therefore, McCullum takes over in all three formats, which is what New Zealand's administration was trying to avoid in the first place.
Fast bowler Adam Milne has been ruled out of the tour with an Achilles injury and was due to be replaced by Mark Gillespie before he succumbed to a side strain. Michael Bates has been named as the replacement. An even bigger blow to the Black Caps is that Daniel Vettori won't make the tour as he is yet to recover from injury. McCullum is left with a mountain to climb, as he attempts to bring together a fractured side and get the most out of the younger players. The Black Caps have five uncapped players in the squad; two fast bowlers, two all-rounders and a wicket-keeper. The one thing that bodes well for them is that the Proteas will also be experiencing a stage of experimentation, and with the nature of T20s, all it can take are a few crucial mistakes from the opposition to cause an upset.
The Proteas search for new T20 blood is, in my opinion, the right decision. This format is about taking opportunities and often when players hit patches of form in the domestic game, they are introduced into the squad but fail to play. When finally picked, their form has waned and their nerves take over. T20 should be the type of scenario where you select players that are in the best immediate form, which becomes easier while playing at home. I expect the youngsters to take their opportunities and leave the Black Caps with some necessary soul searching ahead of the rest of the series.
Kingsmead will host the opening T20 after being stripped of not only the Boxing Day test, but test cricket in general. Kingsmead can often be a difficult ground to chase a total on, with the dew at night causing the ball to slide and skid onto the bat, which can make stroke-play difficult. The forecast at the moment is free of rain, but Durban is subject to unexpected thunderstorms.
South Africa squad: F du Plessis*, F Behardien, H Davids, Q de Kock+, RK Kleinveldt, RE Levi, R McLaren, DA Miller, M Morkel, CH Morris, JL Ontong, RJ Peterson, AM Phangiso, DW Steyn, LL Tsotsobe
New Zealand squad: BB McCullum*, Corey J Anderson, MD Bates, TA Boult, DAJ Bracewell, DC de Boorder+, JEC Franklin, PG Fulton, MJ Guptill, RM Hira, MJ McClenaghan, NL McCullum, C Munro, JDS Neesham, RJ Nicol
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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