Mitchell McClenaghan might have removed a number of staples from his diet but he's hoping to dine out on South African batsmen in the upcoming series in the Republic.
The 26-year-old was one of the standouts for New Zealand in their 24-run win over South Africa A in a Twenty20 match in Pietermaritzburg yesterday. He was fast and penetrative as he knocked the top off the home side's batting lineup and finished with the highly-respectable figures of 3-19 from his four overs.
It should be enough for McClenaghan to earn a start against South Africa for the first of three Twenty20 internationals in Durban on Saturday and Auckland teammate Colin Munro also put his hand up for selection when he top-scored with 39 from 27 balls to help New Zealand through to 140-8 on a slow pitch.
McClenaghan was unplayable at times as he picked up a wicket in each of his first three overs and South Africa A limped through to 116-9 in their 20 overs.
McClenaghan is one of five new faces in the Black Caps squad and has been in good form domestically. He credits some of that to his new diet, which has seen him give up, among other things, bread and pasta.
"The diet's been massive," he said recently. "No sugars, no breads, no nothing, really. Just good veges and broccoli, lots of broccoli. I've learned to love it."
He has also enjoyed being injury-free after a time earlier in his career when his injury list resembled that of a car crash victim. "Fractured pelvis, three hip surgeries, a snapped ankle ligament ... I could keep going if you want," he said.
New captain Brendon McCullum, who chimed in with 32 off 38 balls yesterday, will want McClenaghan and others to keep performing on what is looming as an extremely difficult tour.
Beating South Africa A is a good start after the turmoil of the past couple of weeks around the Ross Taylor saga but the Proteas on home soil will be an altogether different beast.
It's still far too early to make predictions about the tour but winning breeds confidence and this New Zealand side could do with plenty of that.APNZ