Imran Tahir five-for overshadows Trent Boult masterclass as Proteas take T20 triumph
Trent Boult's masterful spell of Twenty20 bowling was emphatically denied match-winning status as South Africa opened their tour of New Zealand with a crushing 78-run triumph in Auckland on Friday night.
Chasing 186 for victory , the No 1-ranked hosts were cleaned up for 107 in 14.5 overs in front of a sizeable contingent of home fans at Eden Park.
Led by an impressive five-wicket bag by leg-spinner Imran Tahir, the world's No 1 T20 and one-day international bowler, the Proteas bowling display was one out of the top draw.
Such was its clinical nature, it was hard to imagine a stunning display by Boult had been so comfortably overshadowed.
The left-arm swing merchant returned the second-best bowling figures by a New Zealand player in T20 internationals, his 2-8 from four overs only bettered by Daniel Vettori's 3-6 from four against Bangladesh in Hamilton in 2010.
Unfortunately for Boult, all that meant little in the ultimate reckoning on Friday night.
South Africa not only sent a strong message ahead of highly-anticipated ODI and test series', they also went some way to erasing the pain of a heart-breaking loss at the same venue in the semifinals of the 2015 World Cup.
After the visitors were sent in by Kiwi captain Kane Williamson, Amla (62 off 43) and Faf du Plessis (36 off 25) had largely managed to resist the brilliance of Boult to help their side post 185-6.
A returning AB de Villiers had also treated the Eden Park faithful to a brief showing of his talents with 26 off 17.
The respectable but very achievable total set the scene nicely but what should have been an exciting New Zealand chase turned into one-way traffic conducted by the tourists.
Playing his first international in place of an injured Martin Guptill, 20-year-old Glenn Phillips struggled to get Proteas opening pair Chris Morris and Dane Paterson away early and at the start of the third over the former removed the debutant for just five.
Colin Munro fared even worse, skittled next ball for a golden duck as he swiped at a full straight ball from Morris to record his fourth consecutive score of three or less for New Zealand.
Tom Bruce joined Williamson and the powerful Central Districts talent made his intentions clear with a towering straight six off Paterson to complete the fourth over.
But just when the third-wicket duo had looked to be settling, having added 28, first-change seamer Andile Phehlukwayo was introduced and Williamson (13) pulled a short ball right down the throat deep square-leg.
It was effectively the beginning of the end for New Zealand as Tahir came into the attack and went on a match-winning tear.
The crafty leggie first removed Corey Anderson (6) and followed with the key wicket of Bruce, who had hit 33 off 27 before he was the fifth man to fall with only 60 on the board.
Luke Ronchi (0) and Mitchell Santner (5) also departed in quick succession, the latter falling to the impressive Phehlukwayo (3-19).
A few late and lusty blows from Colin de Grandhomme and Tim Southee prevented an even wider margin of victory but fittingly it was Tahir who completed the job.
He cleaned up both Ben Wheeler and Southee to complete an expert effort and send the visitors to Hamilton, the location of the first ODI on Sunday, with even more confidence than they arrived with.