Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir led a lethal bowling display by the Standard Bank Proteas that laid the foundation for a fine, 3-2 series win over New Zealand with a six-wicket triumph in the fifth One-Day International (ODI) Auckland on Saturday.
In what has been a see-saw sequence of matches, South Africa gave the host little chance at half way of the decisive encounter by bundling them out for a paltry 149 after winning the toss and electing to bowl first at Eden Park.
Rabada picked up the most number of wickets with his outstanding 3/25, but it was the almost unplayable Imran Tahir that bamboozled the Black Caps.
The leg-spinner returned the most economical figures ever by a Proteas spinner by conceding only 14 runs in his 10 overs and also captured two wickets in the process. It was also the fourth-best return overall for South Africa – the previous three miserly spells all sent down by Shaun Pollock.
The tourists encountered some early trouble in their batting reply, before Faf du Plessis hit an unbeaten 51 (90 balls, 6 fours) to ensure they got over the line with 17.4 overs to spare and in the process returned to the top of the ICC one-day rankings. Victory also ended a run of eight consecutive 50-over series wins at home by the hosts.
But it was all set up by the disciplined and strangled bowling by the South Africans, along with their supreme fielding. Rabada dismissed the dangerous Martin Guptill, fresh from his unbeaten 180 in the previous game, for only four early on, while Kane Williamson (9) was run out by AB de Villiers.
Andile Phehlukwayo (2/35) also excelled with the ball, and when he removed Ross Taylor (8), the Black Caps’ three best batsmen were gone with 51 on the board.
Dean Brownlie, Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner made 24 each, while Colin de Grandhomme top-scored with 32 before he was last man out.
South Africa found themselves in early trouble on 48/3 as Quinton de Kock (6), Hashim Amla (8) and JP Duminy (3) all went cheaply.
De Villiers got things moving along with 23, before David Miller found some form with an unbeaten 45 from 35 balls to help Du Plessis take them to big win.