The Standard Bank Proteas produced the perfect response to their defeat earlier in the week as a team performance allowed them to crush New Zealand by 159 runs at the Westpac Stadium and take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series on Saturday.
Half-centuries from AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock provided the backbone of South Africa’s 271/8 after they had won the toss and elected to bat.
While that total looked difficult to gauge at the halfway point of the match, the Proteas seamers proved that it was much stronger than many thought, as they produced a consummate bowling performance to skittle the Black Caps for 112 inside 33 overs on a pitch that did just enough for the bowlers.
In the process of scoring 85 from 80 deliveries, De Villiers became just the second South African after Jacques Kallis to register 9000 ODI runs, and the quickest batsman in history to reach the landmark.
The Proteas captain brought up the record in his 205th innings - 23 innings quicker than the previous record holder, Sourav Ganguly. Amazingly, he achieved the feat in 9005 deliveries - again the quickest in history.
Although De Villiers was given a strong platform by Quinton de Kock’s fifth straight score of fifty or more, which meant South Africa were 114 for two in the 23rd over when the captain came to the crease, De Villiers struggled to find a reliable partner thereafter.
De Kock (68) followed Faf du Plessis (36) back to the pavilion soon after De Villiers arrived, and another mini-collapse saw JP Duminy and David Miller fall in quick succession.
It was only when Wayne Parnell (35) joined De Villiers that South Africa regained some momentum, as the pair added 84 for the seventh wicket in just 64 balls, giving the tourists some confidence at the innings break.
Parnell then opened the bowling and removed Tom Latham in his first over, while Kagiso Rabada, who returned from a niggle, dismissed Dean Brownlie in his second over with a superb delivery that caught the edge.
That brought New Zealand’s two key batsmen, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, to the crease and the New Zealand captain was given an early life when Parnell found the outside edge but Hashim Amla dropped the catch at slip.
Williamson and Taylor threatened to punish that error as they added 35 to the total with some clean hitting, but South Africa’s change bowlers tied them up perfectly before Andile Phehlukwayo struck.
Phehlukwayo’s first 16 deliveries had cost just four runs while Dwaine Pretorius’ opening over yielded just one, when Williamson attempted to run a ball down to third man and played on.
Pretorius trapped Taylor lbw in the next over as the batsman became frustrated by the lacking of scoring opportunities, before Phehlukwayo had Neil Broom caught by Amla at slip for a duck.
Most impressive was the manner in which the seamers maintained the pressure from that point on - none of them went for more than Parnell’s 4.13 per over, while Pretorius’ 5.2 overs yielded a phenomenal 3 for 5.
That pressure proved too much for New Zealand’s lower order. Colin de Grandhomme finished unbeaten on 34, but the others had no answer as South Africa swept to a handsome win.
The series returns to Seddon Park in Hamilton for the fourth ODI on Wednesday, ahead of the finale at Eden Park in Auckland next Saturday.