First thoughts can be misleading.

Take the news South Africa's one-day international squad would be without their two long-term bowling kingpins, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, through injury.

The third wheel in the world-class trio, Vernon Philander, is expected for the three-test series against New Zealand and, but for a niggling injury, almost made the ODIs even though he hasn't played that format for a couple of years.

That seemed like good news for New Zealand, but South Africa have revealed plenty of depth on the tour so far.

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In Hamilton, 20-year-old Andile Phehlukwayo helped carry South Africa across the line with a cool-headed batting display in the opening ODI.

On Wednesday, up stepped rangy Dwaine Pretorius with a double - a tidy two for 40 off his 10 overs then a blockbusting 50 off 27 balls to pull South Africa to the point of victory.

It was Pretorius' sixth ODI; Phehlukwayo was playing his 12th ODI in Christchurch since making his debut aged 20 in September.

The production line is in full swing. It's as if South Africa haven't missed a beat with the absence of their bowling legends.

"It is great to see them play like that, with confidence and a bit of freedom," South Africa captain AB de Villiers said.

"I think it tells a story about the culture in our team.

"The guys are freed up and feel they can enjoy their cricket. They are backed by the older guys and management, so they are coming in confident and feeling free to do whatever they want and express their talents.

"The depth looks really good, the future looks bright."

Pretorius was a rising star a few years ago before knee injuries cut him down. He started out as a fast bowler, but dialled back the pace and his batting is good enough to have a 42.46 first-class average, including four centuries.

So what is he? A bowler who bats capably or a batsmen who serves up distinctly useful seamers?

"I'd love to be seen as a 50-50 allrounder," the 27-year-old from Randfontein said. "I like to contribute in both aspects. I do pride myself on my batting but I put a lot of work into both facets. Hopefully I can keep adding value to the team, that's the most important thing for me."

He also hopes the lessons the pair are absorbing will play a part in their development, certainly in mental terms.

"To get that close and not get over the line was really disappointing. Next time we are in that position, we can take some lessons out of [Christchurch] and make sure we get over the line."

And where de Villiers has made it clear the Champions Trophy in England in June is the short term Holy Grail for his team, Pretorius has his eyes set further down the road.

"It's an interesting stage to be in the team. The 2019 World Cup is the target of everyone.

"What I like about the set-up is the team doesn't rely heavily on one or two players. They rely on everyone to contribute. If the big players have an off day, others can step up, and then we are going to play really good cricket all over the world."