A record-setting innings by AB de Villiers set South Africa up for a resounding 159-run win in the third one-day international against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday to go 2-1 up in the series.
It was an emphatic response by the world’s top-ranked ODI side after losing to New Zealand in the second match on Wednesday.
De Villiers’ innings of 85, during which he became the fastest player to 9,000 ODI runs, lifted his side to 271 for eight and outstanding bowling effort by Dwaine Pretorious and Andile Phehulkwayo ensured New Zealand never threatened.
Pretorious took three for five off 32 deliveries and Phehulkwayo finished with two for 12 off 30 balls.
South Africa were keen to bat first when they won the toss and while they too had their jitters de Villiers had support from Quinton de Kock (68) to give their innings some respectability.
New Zealand’s reply started disastrously with both openers gone inside three overs with the out-of-form Tom Latham out for a duck and Dean Brownlie gone for two.
Kane Williamson, on four, should have joined them when he spooned a Wayne Parnell delivery directly to first slip where Hashim Amla failed to grasp a regulation chance.
But it was a short-lived reprieve as Williamson struggled to 23 when he was bowled by Phehulkwayo and Ross Taylor (18) went lbw to Pretorious in the following over to have New Zealand 48 for four in the 16th over.
By the 20th over they were 58 for six and South Africa knew they had the game in the bag.
Colin de Grandhomme, who had the best bowling figures for New Zealand, also top scored with the bat.
He was unbeaten on 34 when the innings folded in the 33rd over, while Kane Williamson was the only other batsman to get above 20.
de Villiers milestone
On a wicket that looked full of runs, South African opener Amla was unable to settle and went early for seven.
But de Kock had no problems as he posted his fifth successive half century following innings of 55 and 109 against Sri Lanka and then 69 and 57 in the first two matches of this five-game series.
His 68 in Wellington came off 70 deliveries and included two sixes and six fours.
Faf du Plessis offered some support with 36 but otherwise there was little resistance until de Villiers set up the big finish supported by Wayne Parnell who added 35 at the tail.
When de Villiers clouted Lockie Ferguson to the boundary off the fifth ball he faced he became the fastest batsman to total 9,000 ODI runs reaching the milestone in his 205th innings.
The previous record was 228 held by India’s Sourav Ganguly.
Of the 18 batsmen in the 9,000-plus club, de Villiers also has the best average of 54.04 and best strike rate of 100.00.
De Grandhomme, who delivered his 10 overs in one spell, rocked the South African innings with the wickets of de Kock and du Plessis in the space of four balls to finish with two for 40.