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There were no hero moments from the Black Caps this time as they crashed to a 33-run loss against South Africa in the deciding Twenty20 cricket international in Port Elizabeth today.
Brendon McCullum’s side were comprehensively outplayed in all departments at St George’s Park. They also lost the chance to claim their first series win over South Africa, with the Proteas triumphing 2-1.
Their rivalry now enters the test arena with the first of the two five-dayers, starting in Cape Town on January 2.
First New Zealand get the chance of a three-day warmup match against a South African XI in Paarl where they will bed in their tests players who have arrived in the republic.
New Zealand’s new-look T20 squad had their moments in their short series over the last week but failed to fire today when the pressure went on.
And that pressure arrived from the start when South Africa won the toss and decided to bat, posting an imposing 179-6, led by man of the match Henry Davids (68 runs off 51 balls).
Chasing 180, the Black Caps needed a monster innings from someone, just as Martin Guptill had provided with his unbeaten 101 to single-handedly win the second match and tie up the series.
But it never came as they stuttered through to 146-9.
Guptill (24 off 20) and Brendon McCullum (25 off 22) were the best of the New Zealand batsmen.
After the early loss of Rob Nicol they put on 47 for the second wicket in six lively overs.
But from there the Kiwi innings quickly lost momentum. James Franklin (16), James Neesham (12), Nathan McCullum (17) and Corey Anderson (12) all got starts but no one in the middle order managed to go on and get the big score required to wrestle the advantage away from the slick Proteas.
South Africa dominated this match and were the better of the two revamped T20 squads over the series to deservedly lift the silverware.
They crushed the Kiwis in the opening match in Durban, had the game taken away from them by Guptill in East London and bounced back to be in charge in Port Elizabeth.
There was plenty of promising stuff from the Black Caps throughout the series but rarely did they gell to provide the team performance required, particularly today.
Mitchell McClenaghan again fired up, with the big Auckland left-arm quick taking 2-24 off his four overs to be the best of the New Zealand bowlers.
There was early hope when left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira removed Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis in the second over. And when McClenaghan claimed Quinton de Kock to have South Africa 2-26, there was some real hope for the tourists.
But an 89-run third wicket stand between Davids and Justin Ontong put South Africa in a commanding position.
And they pushed home that advantage with David Miller (28 off 12) and Farhaan Behardien (22 off 11) blasting some bonus runs at the end to post a big total that required aggression from the outset from the Kiwis.
But slick quickie Ryan McLaren knocked the top off the Black Caps’ batting order and finished with 3-25.
Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso showed the vulnerability of the New Zealand batting to slow bowling by also claiming 3-25, including the prized scalps of Guptill and McCullum.
H Davids c Anderson b McClenaghan 68
F Du Plessis b Hira 1
Q De Kock c Anderson b McClenaghan 2
J Ontong c Anderson b Franklin 48
D Miller c Anderson b Bracewell 28
F Behardien c McClenaghan b Bracewell 22
R Kleinveldt not out 0
Extras (lb-4, w-6) 10
Total (six wickets, 20 overs) 179
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-26, 3-115, 4-135, 5-179, 6-179.
Bowling: McClenaghan 4-0-24-2 (2w), Hira 4-1-24-1, N.McCullum 3-0-27-0, Franklin 3-0-30-1, Bracewell 3-0-35-2 (1w), Neesham 3-0-35-0 (3w).
R Nicol lbw b McLaren 5
M Guptill c Peterson b Phangiso 24
B McCullum c Ontong b Phangiso 25
C Munro c de Kock b McLaren 3
J Franklin c Ontong b Phangiso 16
J Neesham c Morkel b Peterson 12
N McCullum c Peterson b McLaren 17
C Anderson run out 12
D Bracewell not out 15
R Hira c Ontong b Kleinveldt 12
M McClenaghan not out 1
Extras (lb-1, w-3) 4
Total (nine wickets, 20 overs) 146
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-53, 3-56, 4-60, 5-84, 6-87, 7-116, 8-116, 9-137
Bowling: McLaren 4-0-25-3 (1w), Peterson 3-0-24-1, Morkel 4-0-37-0 (1w), Kleinveldt 4-0-25-1 (1w), Phangiso 4-0-25-3, Ontong 1-0-9-0.