After a heavily one sided test series, South Africa and New Zealand head to Paarl for the first of three one day internationals (8.00am GMT, Saturday).
South Africa will be short odds favourites throughout this series and with New Zealand offering little resistance to pace and seam, the tourists are going to struggle to avoid humiliating defeats in any of the three matches.
There are a few changes and some unfamiliar faces in South Africa’s one day squad and that may just give the Kiwis some hope ahead of this series. Test skipper Graeme Smith hands over the captaincy to AB De Villiers who in turn, will relinquish the wicket keeping gloves to 20 year old Quinton de Kock.
De Kock made his international debut in the recent T20 series between these two sides but his inexperience allows New Zealand to target his wicket. Farhaan Berhadien is another man who has struggled while representing his country so the tourists will feel that there is a weakness in the middle order.
Sadly for New Zealand, that’s where the good news ends. The hosts’ batting line up will also contain the prolific Hashim Amla along with Smith and Faf Du Plessis who is enjoying an incredible start to his international career.
New Zealand’s bowling attack just doesn’t look like containing the home side and if the tourists are to win any game in this series, they will have to rely on their own batters to chase down or post huge totals.
The Kiwis are more than capable of doing that and their skipper Brendon McCullum is one of the highest ranked players in one day cricket. Alongside McCullum, Martin Guptill is a recent T20 century maker and he enjoyed a profitable series against these opponents in the early part of 2012.
Rob Nicol is another experienced player at the top of the order but these three men aside, New Zealand will field young players who are just starting to make their way in the international game.
Opposing them is the formidable bowling attack led by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel who both helped themselves to a haul of New Zealand wickets in the recent test series. These two men will hold the key to this match but if the Kiwis can keep wickets intact while facing them, they may just stand a chance.
With Vernon Philander injured, the remainder of South Africa’s bowling attack looks very ordinary. Lonwabo Tsotsobe has pace but can be very wayward while spinner Aaron Phangiso is another man who performed below his best in the T20 series.
New Zealand are unlikely to bowl South Africa out for a small total so they will have to make big runs and they stand a good chance of doing this. McCullum’s side often beat the odds but it’s usually at the end of a series that’s already lost so I would confidently back the hosts in this opening contest.