With both teams having vanquished their opponents in one sided series in their respective backyards, it will be an interesting encounter to see South Africa and New Zealand battle it out on Kiwi soil as the Proteas tour the island nation after eight years. Both South Africa and New Zealand are presently brimming with confidence after winning against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe respectively. The teams will face off in three T20s starting Friday night, followed by three ODIs and finally finishing the tour with three Tests. For South Africa, who are currently ranked World No.2, this tour will be the treasure trove they will look to plunder to rightfully earn the No. 1 spot. New Zealand however, will look to maintain their dominance and repeat their World Cup performance against the Proteas.
The African nation have had a nice little holiday after beating the Sri Lankans in both the Test and ODI formats last month. They have had enough time to gear up for the New Zealand tour and have also had ample time to rectify whatever went wrong with their performance against the Sri Lankan which, when pondered over, is very little. Their focus, clearly, is on playing good cricket and keeping their best for the Test matches. The Proteas played their last T20 in October 2011 and will look to adjust to the conditions in New Zealand quickly and not give the Kiwis much of an advantage. But looking at the experience and talent that South Africa are packing, there is no doubt that it will be a tough go for the Kiwis to get through the series in one piece. South Africa have too many good batsmen, whom they have flaunted in the past by using four different batsmen at No.4, depending on the state of the match, during the Sri Lanka tour. Batting ace Hashim Amla and all rounder Jacques Kallis will definitely play a vital role in the ODIs and the Tests, not to mention Graeme Smith who returned to form in the last two ODIs against Sri Lanka after a long draught. Skipper AB de Villiers and JP Duminy only make the team more formidable. Justin Ontong will be making his come-back after a three year hiatus. Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel, Albie Morkel and Rusty Theron will bring up the pace attack whereas there is doubt as to whether South Africa will include Robin Peterson or Johan Botha to the playing eleven. Everything put together, South Africa definitely pack a lethal arsenal that could leave New Zealand reeling.
For firsts, the Black Caps have the advantage and disadvantage of continuous cricket. The advantage is, having whitewashed Zimbabwe in all three formats of the game, they will be full of confidence that is necessary to stand up against a side like South Africa. Also, New Zealand are ranked N0.2 in T20s which will only add to their advantage. The disadvantage is, hosting the mammoth South Africans just three days after seeing off the demoralized Zimbabweans. There is no denying the wear and tear the Kiwis will be enduring due to too much cricket. Chances are that they could just crumble against a formidable Proteas side. Yet, it cannot be denied that the Kiwis are a dangerous side themselves. Skipper/keeper Brendon McCullum is a man meant to play T20 cricket at its best, as he has shown previously. Opener Martin Guptill is presently at his dangerous best, though he was rested in the second T20 against Zimbabwe due to a groin strain, which will not stop him from playing. Rob Nicol, Kane Williamson and James Franklin form a solid middle order while the first two also contribute as spinners. Nathan McCullum, Ronnie Hira complete a challenging spin arsenal. New Zealand will be missing the presence of Jacob Oram as he has failed to recover from a calf injury but their advantage lies in the failure of many a South African batsmen to play spin. All said and done, New Zealand are all set to give their guests a run for their money and they will want to incorporate all of their strengths into making it possible.
South Africa will be baying for a Kiwi destruction in their own backyard while the Black Caps will take motivation from their World Cup ousting of the Proteas. Not only does Friday’s T20 clash promise to be epic, the entire tour looks like it will tick off the Richter’s scale at any point.