March 4, 2017
Start time 1400 local (0100GMT)
The Big Picture
Neither side has wanted to grasp hold of this series. There has been some impressive cricket from both, headlined by Martin Guptill in Hamilton and AB de Villiers throughout, but also vulnerabilities exposed – perhaps more than expected in the case of South Africa who arrived as the No. 1 side. It has made for compelling viewing.
New Zealand have made it their thing this season to dethrone the top one-day side. Firstly they did it to Australia and now they have done it to South Africa (at least briefly). Whatever the outcome at Eden Park it is unlikely to change each sides’ thinking too much in terms of the Champions Trophy, but South Africa have a few unwanted concerns over the middle order while New Zealand remain in a muddle over the wicketkeeping position which has a knock-on impact to the middle order.
Talk of momentum heading into the decider would appear pointless given how New Zealand responded to being bowled out for 112 in Wellington. South Africa need to find a similar reply after being Guptill-ed. If they don’t, de Villiers will leave Eden Park with that sinking feeling again.
(completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WLWLW
South Africa LWLWW
In the spotlight
Tim Southee has had an interesting series. He has bowled some superb deliveries, and his four-over spell of cutters in Hamilton helped throttle the South Africa middle order, but overall he has gone for 6.59. Although it needs to be qualified that he bowled to de Villiers at the death and, crucially, got his yorkers in to seal the Christchurch victory. He returns to the ground where he (just about) held his nerve against Marcus Stoinis’ onslaught earlier this season.
AB de Villiers has barely put a foot wrong with the bat – although some help from his middle order would not go amiss – but he now needs to steel himself and his team for a crunch encounter. Was it fate that there would be a deciding match at Eden Park? Before the T20I, he had noticed now much that semi-final was replayed on TV. This is another excuse for the sports channels in New Zealand to re-run the match again.
New Zealand have added Matt Henry to the squad on duty in Hamilton. It is unlikely they will play two frontline spinners at this ground although Jeetan Patel’s offspin added a new dimension to the attack. Henry bowled well in the recent Plunket Shield match, even if it wasn’t enough to keep him in the Test squad, while Lockie Ferguson was expensive in the Wellington ODI.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, Dean Brownlie, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Neesham, 6 Luke Ronchi (wk), 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Lockie Ferguson/Matt Henry, 11 Trent Boult
Andile Phehlukwayo sat out the previous match with a tight groin – his changes of pace were missed – but is fit and could rotate with one of the other allrounders. South Africa would have liked a chance to rest Kagiso Rabada, but with the series on the line may find it difficult. After backing from de Villiers, it appears unlikely JP Duminy or David Miller will be replaced by Farhaan Behardien.
South Africa (probable) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Andile Phehlukwayo, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Imran Tahir
Pitch and conditions
This could be the truest wicket of a series where the pitches have provided unexpected assistance, especially for the spinners. De Villiers said that Imran Tahir, who took 5 for 24 in the T20I here, would enjoy the extra pace in the wicket. There is the chance of late showers. Rain in an Eden Park match between these two. Where have we seen that before?
Stats and trivia
- New Zealand have won just two of their nine one-day series against South Africa: 2004 at home and 2013 away.
- In 73 ODIs at Eden Park, New Zealand’s record is level-pegging: 34 wins and 34 losses (with two ties and three no results)
- AB de Villiers averages 203 against New Zealand on their home soil. He has only been dismissed three times in 11 innings. The most runs by a visiting batsman to New Zealand in a series of up to five matches is Rahul Dravid’s 309 in 1998-99 – De Villiers is on 239.
“Really looking forward to it, it’s a nice challenge for us as team. Don’t think this series has seen the best cricket we capable of, so tomorrow is a little opportunity to play in big pressure game.”
Faf du Plessis
“I don’t think either side has played the perfect game. There have been patches of brilliance but not a complete performance.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.