Cricket: Black Caps thrashed by Proteas

By David Leggat

World No 1 New Zealand were swept aside by a legspinning tornado at Eden Park tonight, losing the one-off T20 international to South Africa by a mile - or 78 runs.

It turned into a thrashing, as Imran Tahir, the world's No 1-ranked T20 bowler roared through New Zealand, taking five for 24 off his 3.5 overs. There were 5.1 overs left when it ended. It was a thorough beating.

Before a 22,000 crowd, Tahir was sensationally good, a magician pulling out all the tricks against batsmen who didn't have much idea what was going on. He's the third South African bowler to take five wickets in a T20 international.

New Zealand had done a reasonable job in keeping South Africa to 185 for six but were slow to start, in big trouble well before halfway in the chase, and simply folded before Tahir's high class display.

Scoff that it was 'only' a one-off T20 international if you must, but South Africa delivered a sharp message.

Unbeaten at home this summer? That New Zealand claim is now a goner.

South Africa have now won 11 and lost four of their 15 T20s against New Zealand, and there was no quibbling over this result.

Glenn Phillips looked edgy and his debut lasted 11 balls for five.

Colin Munro played an awful shot first ball and only Tom Bruce of the specialists offered much resistance before falling to a lovely wrong'un from Tahir.

Trent Boult deserve better. The left arm swing man turned in a fine performance in taking 4-0-8-2. It was a standout individual display, surpassed only by the unmatchable Tahir.

Dan Vettori has the best T20 figures for New Zealand of those to have completed their four overs, but his 4-1-6-3 against Bangladesh in Hamilton seven years ago, with due respect, don't compare.

Boult delivered a master class, sharp, incisive and conceding just eight singles in his 24 balls -- and had du Plessis dropped by Mitch Santner, a regulation skier at backward point, into the bargain.

South Africa's innings leant heavily on the 87-run second wicket stand between the outstanding Hashim Amla and captain Faf du Plessis.

Amla's 62 off 43 balls was his fifth half century in his last seven T20 innings. He's a perfect example of a batsman who has tailored his game to suit the needs of whatever form of cricket he's playing at the time.

Du Plessis took a while to get going en route to 36 off 25 balls, three of which ended up in the stands.

As an appetizer for what will follow in the next six weeks this did the job nicely. But one of the teams has clearly been put on notice.

The teams meet in the opening game of the five-match ODI series in Hamilton on Sunday.

- NZ Herald

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