What about them Warriors? Today's Warriors-Sea Eagles NRL season opener at Eden Park must be odds on to surpass New Zealand's dead rubber one-day cricket loss to South Africa in terms of entertainment value for local fans.
At least that's what those who took up the recent joint ticket offer are likely to cross their fingers for after South Africa chased down New Zealand's 206 with 40 balls to spare last night to win by five wickets and take the series 3-0.
Still, at least the grounds staff will have been grateful. The early finish gave them extra time to switch the wicket block ready for use by the 13-man code.
New Zealand suffered another batting struggle against the guile of the South African attack. No Black Cap passed 50. A total of 206 was not enough after being sent in, even on a slightly slower Eden Park wicket courtesy of recent rain. The crowd knew, judging by the mock cheer as 200 came up in the 47th over. It is the second time in the three one-dayers New Zealand have been dismissed within their allotted overs. The same occurred in Napier on Wednesday while in the Wellington opener they finished nine down.
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On one-day international debut (after playing two T20s and a test) Marchant de Lange was the outstanding South African bowler. The 21-year-old nabbed four wickets for 46 from nine overs. If the Proteas were to strike any fitness problems before the first test he would be a worthy replacement. His short run-up, power through the crease and nagging deliveries upwards of 140km/h gave batsmen limited room to play outside off stump.
Brendon McCullum walked out with Pearl Jam's Better Man blasting over the PA system. New Zealand could not find a better man to bat but he sold his wicket too early for 47. However, in Ross Taylor's absence McCullum has carried New Zealand with strong leadership. His 257 runs - at an average of 42.83 across the one-day and T20 series - and his handling of the Jesse Ryder-Doug Bracewell fiasco makes it hard to direct blame his way.
New Zealand were also victims of sublime South African fielding. The visitors looked like a circus troupe with their accuracy and agility. Faf du Plessis' full length two-handed dive to catch Martin Guptill at point was a definitive moment. Guptill hammered the ball out of the middle but du Plessis snared it with such ease it left mouths agape. He also pouched McCullum's miscued spoon to point and threw down the stumps to get rid of Kane Williamson. Williamson formed part of New Zealand's could've-would've-should've triumvirate with Colin de Grandhomme and James Franklin. Each got a start but failed to go on. De Grandhomme at least demonstrated more of his promise with three whopping sixes in his run-a-ball 36. Then he ran himself out.
Hashim Amla reinforced his status as the world's No 1 limited overs batsman with 76 as he anchored the chase and eased into form ahead of the tests. Kyle Mills took some consolation from the loss.
He became the fourth New Zealand bowler to take 200 ODI wickets after Daniel Vettori, Chris Harris and Chris Cairns.