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South African loss hurts Black Caps

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/02/2017

Being on the wrong end of a tight ODI finish is an unfamiliar feeling for the Black Caps recently, and one that skipper Kane Williamson isn't keen to repeat.

South Africa edged to a four-wicket win in the opening game of a five-match series in Hamilton on Sunday, skipper AB de Villiers smashing a boundary with the second-last ball to secure the win.

Set a target of 208 for victory in the reduced-overs match, de Villiers smacked Tim Southee straight down Seddon Park to pinch victory.

Williamson said the 34-over game, delayed by rain for three hours, was played on an extremely tough surface, and New Zealand had worked hard to overcome a middle-order collapse in reaching 207-7.

Southee scored 24 off 13, including three boundaries and a six, while Colin de Grandhomme cleared the ropes three times on the way to 34 as the pair constructed a late 50-run partnership in 23 balls.

"We have been on the right side of a number of those games, and it does hurt being on the other side," Williamson said.

"It would have been nice to build some more partnerships through that middle order - it would have given us a better platform to then have those latter overs where you can play a bit more aggressively and bump your total up."

Williamson was pleased with the fight his team showed, particularly with the ball when South Africa looked to be cruising at 125-3 halfway through the 22nd over.

Four wickets in 14 balls put the Black Caps on the front foot, but de Villiers' 37 off 34 balls and a quickfire 29 off 23 from Andile Phehlukwayo saw the Proteas home.

South Africa have now won 12 ODIs on end, but Williamson said New Zealand's focus going into Wednesday's second match in Christchurch would centre on their own game.

"We're not thinking too much about their records," he said.

"We're thinking about our cricket, and how we want to improve. It's important that we do look to go back to the basics

"We know that if we're able to put them under a lot more pressure than we have done, that'll hold us in good stead."

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