AB de Villiers remained unbeaten on 77 at Hamilton    Getty Images
AB de Villiers remained unbeaten on 72 at Hamilton Getty Images

In the fourth ODI of the ongoing five-match series, South Africa posted 279 for 8 in 50 overs versus New Zealand. The innings was marred with the pendulum shifting from one side to the other but it was AB de Villiers’ show which propelled things back for his side. New Zealand will have a humongous task to chase down the total under lights on a turf which is challenging to bat on. However, they will try to bring out the best in them in a must-win clash for the hosts to keep the series alive. New Zealand have remained unbeaten in their last eight series at home and the hosts have their task cut out to keep the record intact. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs South Africa, 4th ODI at Hamilton

Opting to bat, South Africa were in for a shocker. With back-to-back fifties in the last three games, Quinton de Kock went for no score. New Zealand started with spinners from both ends (first such instance for hosts at home) which pretty much exposed the nature of the turf. Jeetan Patel and Martin Guptill were included in the side and the former sent de Kock packing in the very first over. Mitchell Santner held his end before Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis began South Africa’s resurgence.

Amla was in full flow and looked nonchalant in the middle especially against pacers. He waited for the ball to come onto him and exhibited some brilliant strokes in his 38-ball 40. He punished Trent Boult in particular and stitched a 50-run stand with du Plessis before falling for a premeditated shot off Patel. JP Duminy came in the middle to keep the left-hand right-hand combination going. The duo struck another fifty-run stand as Kane Williamson kept on rotating his bowlers. The surface was sticking up with the ball not coming onto the willow easily.

Tim Southee, Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham were given the ball in the middle overs with the former responding by sending back Duminy. The left-hander chopped the ball onto the stumps which triggered a middle order collapse for the visitors. Du Plessis got to his fifty but was kept under check with some tidy spells from Neesham and Santner. Neesham followed Southee and bowled the slower balls effectively. While Southee bowled the off cutters, Neesham presented good use of variations with leg cutters and full length deliveries. The cross seam bowling worked well for the all-rounder and was rewarded by dismissing du Plessis (67).

From 128 for 2, Proteas slipped to 158 for 6 with du Plessis, David Miller and Dwaine Pretorius sitting back in the hut. Nonetheless, it was another de Villiers’ special which made the difference in the innings. He found company in form of Chris Morris as the pair added some vital runs in the last 10 overs. De Villiers kept composure amidst collapse and timed his innings to bring up his 52nd fifty.

Morris was followed by Wayne Parnell who tarnished Kiwi pacers, Boult and Southee, for missing their length. The plan was to attack and not hold back which worked in Parnell-de Villiers’ favour as they added 63 runs together for the eighth wicket. Proteas were struggling for a score of above 240 but managed to steer past the 275-run mark. They have the advantage going into the innings break.

Just like the first ODI, also played at Hamilton, this game will also be tough for the chasing side. The wicket will only get slower as the game progresses and one may see a lot more slower ones being bowled in New Zealand’s chase. The ball will also turn under lights and test the Kiwi batsmen who will be determined to keep the series alive by winning the contest here.

Brief scores:

South Africa 279 for 8 in 50 overs (Hashim Amla 40, Faf du Plessis 67, AB de Villiers 72*; Jeetan Patel 2 for 57, Mitchell Santner 1 for 40) vs New Zealand.