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De Villiers anchors South Africa to comfortable win in NZ

South Africa captain AB de Villiers anchored his side to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand, whose bowling and fielding was far superior to a poor batting performance in the first game of their three match one-day series on Tuesday.

De Villiers (89 not out) combined with JP Duminy (58 not out) in an efficient 139-run partnership after a tight and varied New Zealand bowling attack had given the hosts the sniff of an unlikely victory when they reduced them to 97 for four in the 25th over at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.

The 30-year-old De Villiers, however, completed his 39th ODI half-century, while Duminy compiled his 20th and hit a six to win the game as they tourists finished on 236 for four, having chased New Zealand’s 230.

The series is being used by both sides to finalise their selections for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand’s batsmen, however, did little to showcase their credentials and their total was only boosted by a record 10th-wicket partnership of 74 between Luke Ronchi and Trent Boult which rescued them from 156 for nine.

Wicketkeeper Ronchi was agonisingly close to his first ODI century after reaching 99 on the final ball of the 45th over.

The 33-year-old, however, seemed in two minds on the next ball and only succeeded in giving wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock his fifth catch of the innings and sixth dismissal overall with the stumping of Tom Latham.

The innings by Ronchi, under pressure from test wicketkeeper BJ Watling for a place in the World Cup squad, showed coach Mike Hesson he could be the ideal player to close out New Zealand’s innings after hitting three sixes and 11 other boundaries in his 83-ball stay. (Reuters)

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