Thanks to a blistering innings by Martin Guptill in the fourth ODI, New Zealand leveled the series at 2-2, which paves way for the fifth and final ODI to be a cracker. Guptill scored a magnificent 180 and remained unbeaten as well as New Zealand romped home with six wickets in hand. In the process, he became the first batsman to register three 180 plus scores in ODIs. His happiness didn't last long as he was omitted from the 15-man Test squad. But he would be looking to put it aside and show the selectors what he's capable of.
New Zealand have won just two of their nine ODI series against South Africa and they would be looking to correct the record. Kane Williamson would still be having qualms of his underfiring middle-order, but given that it's the series decider, it's highly unlikely he'll be tweaking his side too much. Although they haven't found their perfect fit for the wicket-keeper position heading into the Champions Trophy, Ronchi has been good with the gloves. His inconsistency with the bat is the major concern for him to address and Williamson will be hoping that the hard-hitting batsman will find his touch soon.
— ICC (@ICC) March 3, 2017
South Africa, on the other hand, crushed New Zealand in the third ODI, bowling them out for a mere 112. But they were 'Guptill-ed' in the fourth ODI. None of the South African bowlers was able to find an answer for the blitzkrieg. Their batting looks formidable with AB de Villiers leading with the bat. Just like their opponents, they've qualms about their middle order. Heading into the Champions Trophy which is just four months away, they would look to correct their major concern as soon as possible.
Their bowling has been good but has been inconsistent. Imran Tahir, their lead spinner hasn't found his wicket-taking form and that will worry the visitors. Kagiso Rabada needs a good bowling partner and hasn't found the same in Wayne Parnell. Though Pretorius has shined with the ball, he isn't the bowler who would strike fear in the mind of batsmen. The likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are being dearly missed by the visitors.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) March 3, 2017
Tim Southee has had an indifferent series. Though he has gone for a lot of runs, his bowling has proved to be crucial for the hosts. His spell in the last ODI restricted the South African middle-order while his yorkers in the second ODI helped them clinch a victory.
AB de Villiers has been South Africa's mainstay this series. He's the leading run-scorer for South Africa this series and his batting has pleased everyone. He has led the side well. He'll be needing some resistance from the middle-order if the visitors have any idea of winning the match.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 3, 2017
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Dean Brownlie, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir.
New Zealand vs South Africa, 5th ODI – Schedule
Time: 6.30 am IST
Venue: Eden Park.