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Proteas conquer Eden Park, primed for ODIs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/02/2017 Angelo Risso

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, AB de Villiers was texted by a man who knows the challenge of playing at Eden Park better than most.

Amidst the off-field rancour and controversy of the 1981 Springboks tour of New Zealand, Wynand Claassen led his side to a 25-22 defeat at the ground.

So, watching on from the Rainbow Nation as the Proteas thumped the Black Caps on Friday, the ex-No.8 decided to send de Villiers a quick message.

"He told me, well done last night, it's just a T20 game we know but it takes a bit to go and beat the Kiwis at Eden Park," the 33-year-old de Villiers said.

"There's always a great significance in winning a game away from home."

And win they did, putting any demons from the 2015 Cricket World Cup semi-final behind them with a 78-run T20 thrashing.

Whereas the Proteas failed to halt New Zealand's record-setting run chase on that autumnal evening, they didn't even let them begin one on Friday.

Chasing 186, the Black Caps were summarily bowled out for 107 in less than 15 overs, with every player except Tom Bruce failing to score beyond 20.

Imran Tahir shone with a T20 career-best of 24-5, while Chris Morris caused the Kiwi upper-order plenty of headaches with the new ball.

"It's a good wicket, difficult to stop batters when they get going, so our bowlers did an outstanding job to pick up wickets," de Villiers said.

"They just didn't get going last night.

"It's not a lack of skill, just lost wickets at a bad time and never got that crucial partnership going in T20 cricket."

With the one-off T20 match behind them, both sides head into the first of five ODIs in Hamilton on Sunday on the back of long winning streaks.

The world No.1 Proteas have won 11 ODIs on the bounce, including against Sri Lanka, Australia and Ireland, while the Kiwis are on a 14-game ODI run.

For de Villiers, Friday's pummelling was the perfect mental preparation for a difficult ODI series in foreign conditions.

The exact same squad will go into the match at Seddon Park, with batsman David Miller unlikely to recover in time from a finger complaint.

"We saw it as a bit of a red flag, even though it wasn't that significant, it's still representing your country," the batsman said.

"We want to start a series off on the right note and it normally leads into the series to follow.

"Our culture and the belief in the squad is as high as I've ever experienced."

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