AUCKLAND: Imran Tahir took 5-24 and combined with Chris Morris to bowl South Africa to a 78-run win over New Zealand in a Twenty20 international on Friday, giving the Proteas a confidence boost at the start of their New Zealand tour.
Morris and Tahir both had hat-trick chances as South Africa dismissed New Zealand for 107 in 14.5 overs in reply to its innings of 185-6, which was founded on Hashim Amla's 62 from 43 balls.
South Africa exposed serious flaws in New Zealand's selection for the match and likely heightened pressure on New Zealand coach Mike Hesson as he leads his team into a five-match one-day international series, starting Sunday.
Hesson's refusal to pick Ross Taylor, New Zealand's best-limited overs batsman, for the match — apparently because of personal animosity — backfired when Hesson's chosen surrogates all failed in one of New Zealand's worst-ever T20 batting performances.
Hesson chose 20-year-old South African-born wicketkeeper-batsman Glenn Phillips to make his international debut although Phillips had no domestic record to recommend him for selection. He barely laid bat on ball in an 11-ball inning of five runs which was ended by Morris, who knocked the top off the New Zealand order.
In the week before the match, Hesson insisted that Phillips, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson and Tom Bruce were better international batsmen than Taylor. Munro was out first ball for 0, Anderson for 6, Phillips for 5 and while Bruce made 33, he struggled to do so with any certitude when New Zealand needed someone to anchor its innings.
Tahir showed why he is the best Twenty20 bowler in international cricket as he tore apart the New Zealand innings.
Morris had weakened the innings at first, dismissing Phillips and Munro with consecutive balls in his second over. Andile Phehlukwayo rattled through the middle order, dismissing captain Kane Williamson (13), Anderson (6) and Mitchell Santner (5) before Tahir produced his best bowling performance in Twenty20 internationals to clinch South Africa's victory.
His intelligent use of the wrong-un, of width, drift and flight beguiled the New Zealand batsmen who surrendered the early advantage in the series against South Africa to the touring side.
Tahir bowled Bruce for 33 with a textbook googly, had de Grandhomme caught by J.P. Duminy for 15, snared Luke Ronchi first ball when he skied a catch to fellow wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, then bowled Ben Wheeler (6) and Tim Southee (20).
"It's obviously a one-off in Twenty20 cricket and anything can happen," South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. "But we played some good cricket tonight. We were consistent with the bat on a wicket that bounced.
"The last six or seven months have been outstanding for us as a team so we are confident but we understand too that every day is a new, fresh day and you have to rock up and perform."
Amla's half-century at the top of the innings set up South Africa for a competitive total. After the early loss of his opening partner de Kock without scoring, he reached his seventh T20 half century from 32 balls.
Du Plessis, with 36, A.B. de Villiers with 26 and Duminy with 29 provided support as South Africa achieved a competitive total.
New Zealand's innings was quickly in decline with the loss of Phillips and Munro to successive balls, and its hope of victory died with Bruce and Ronchi fell to consecutive balls in the 11th over.
"They played well in all departments," Williamson said. "It's frustrating from our point of view.
"We didn't really fire a shot. They certainly set the tone at the top of the order, which we weren't really able to do, which was credit to some good bowling."