Munro, McClenaghan star as Caps start well
New Zealand did exactly what they needed to - win their tour opener in South Africa - and the two biggest contributors were international rookies.
Given their poor form in the Twenty20 format and the fact they boast five uncapped players in the 15-man squad, with players such as Ross Taylor, Dan Vettori, Jesse Ryder, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee and Jacob Oram all back home for various reasons, the tourists identified victory in their only warmup match today as paramount, and to that end new captain Brendon McCullum will be satisfied.
A 24-run victory over South Africa A in Pietermaritzburg this morning (NZT) will have eased a few nerves among the new faces - and maybe the new captain - while moving in the right direction ahead of the big show - a three-match T20 series against South Africa which starts in Durban on Saturday morning (NZT).
A slow, low wicket at the City Oval ensured runs were difficult to come by, but New Zealand's total of 140-8 was comfortably too many for South Africa's second-stringers, who limped through to 116-9 from their allotted overs.
New Zealand played all five newbies in the 12-a-side match and Auckland duo Colin Munro and Mitchell McClenaghan impressed most, putting their names forward for an international debut on Saturday.
Munro, the big-hitting left-hander, gave New Zealand's innings impetus with a 27-ball 39, which included four fours and a brace of sixes. He top-scored batting at No 5, while captain Brendon McCullum, at first-drop, scored 32 from 38 balls and brother Nathan contributed a quickfire 22 not out at the end.
Central Districts product McClenaghan bowled a fiery spell and, according to reports, consistently topped the 140kmh mark. The left-arm quick took 3-19 from his four overs, and received support from inexperienced left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira, who took 3-35 from his four.
Only Vaughn van Jaarsveld, with a run-a-ball 43, passed 20 for the hosts, whose bowling effort had been highlighted by medium pacer Kyle Abbott's 4-16.
McClenaghan said he had been given a licence by McCullum to ''just take wickets'', and that's what he would be looking to do all tour.
''Brendon just said to go out and bowl hard. He wasn't worried about me going for runs, which is always good. He just said to go hard,'' McClenaghan said.
''My job is to take three wickets in the top six, that's my role for this tour, so that's what I've got to go out and do.
''I really enjoyed it today, it was good to get some of the nerves out of the way before Friday.''
McClenaghan expected the pitch at Kingsmead in Durban to be significantly quicker than today but he thought East London and Port Elizabeth, venues for the second and third matches, might be similarly slow, ''so it was good to get a run on these kind of tracks before we head down there''.
''This is a new group of players and this will really band us together even more,'' he said of the win. ''We're already a tight unit, but definitely this has set the ball rolling.''
Meanwhile, South Africa A captain Justin Ontong, who made five today, has been called into the national team for the T20 series to replace batsman AB de Villiers, who has opted for extra rest ahead of the test series in January.
De Villiers, the regular wicketkeeper in all three forms after Mark Boucher's retirement, has a history of back problems, though team manager Mohammed Moosajee told the Cricinfo website the break was more about "managing his workload".
There is a radically new look to the South African T20 squad, which will be captained by Faf du Plessis, and adding to this Moosajee said the plan was for players such as frontline bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to rotate during the series, playing "one or two" matches each.
New Zealand 140-8 (Colin Munro 39, Brendon McCullum 32, Nathan McCullum 22 not out, Kyle Abbott 4-16) beat South Africa A 116-9 (Vaughn van Jaarsveld 43, Mitchell McClenaghan 3-19, Ronnie Hira 3-35, Corey Anderson 1-9) by 24 runs.
Revised South Africa T20 squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, Justin Ontong, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
- © Fairfax NZ News