Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 20 News List

McCullum backs Kiwis after S Africa rout

AFP and reuters, DURBAN, South Africa

South Africa’s Dale Steyn, left, bowls to New Zealand’s Ronnie Hira during their Twenty20 match on Friday in Durban, South Africa.

Photo: AFP

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was unapologetic for his team’s approach after South Africa trounced them by eight wickets with 47 balls to spare in the first Twenty20 international on Friday.

Fast bowler Rory Kleinveldt made two early strikes to start a slide from which New Zealand never recovered. Kleinveldt took the key wickets of Rob Nicol and McCullum and finished with 3-18 to capture the man of the match award.

South Africa romped home in 12.1 overs with new captain Faf du Plessis making 38 not out, while Quinton de Kock, making his debut four days after his 20th birthday, slammed a quick 28 not out.

“We played some aggressive cricket and missed a couple of fundamentals on the way,” McCullum said of his team’s collapse to 86 all out after winning the toss.

“That is the way we are going to be, that is the way we are going to put them under pressure. We were probably a bit too keen, we were outplayed,” added the captain, who said he expected a better performance in the second match of the three-game series in East London today.

Du Plessis hailed a “fantastic” performance by the home side. “The bowling was fantastic, the energy on the field was awesome,” he said.

It was a disappointing start for New Zealand, who arrived as underdogs, but were expected to put up a reasonable fight in the Twenty20 internationals. They are missing several key players, including former captain Ross Taylor, who was unavailable for the tour, and suffered another blow when experienced batsman Martin Guptill could not play at Kingsmead because of a stomach ailment. Fast bowler Trent Boult was also unavailable because of a similar problem.

On a Kingsmead pitch with pace and bounce, the tourists lost three wickets inside the first five overs. Nicol charged Kleinveldt and was caught behind, while McCullum top-edged a hook and was caught at fine leg. In between Peter Fulton drove Dale Steyn to mid-on.

It did not get much better for the Black Caps although left-handed newcomer Colin Munro, who was born in Durban and had his early schooling in the city before his family moved to New Zealand, made 23. Doug Bracewell hit 21 not out.

Steyn, newcomer Chris Morris and left-arm spinner Robin Peterson all took two wickets.

New Zealand new cap Mitchell McClenaghan had Richard Levi caught at slip for a duck, bowling a wicket maiden at the start of the South African innings. However, Henry Davids and Du Plessis put on 45 before the captain and De Kock finished the match.

Meanwhile, all-rounder Jacob Oram has opted out of his New Zealand Cricket (NZC) central contract to focus on his professional Twenty20 career.

The 34-year-old Oram, who played 33 Tests and 160 one-day internationals, secured an early release from his contract, NZC said in a statement yesterday.

“This was a very difficult decision, but in recent weeks I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer make a full-time commitment to NZC,” Oram said in the statement.

“Various factors have led me to make this decision including my age, the stage of my career and the impending birth of my second child,” he said. “I really enjoy the Twenty20 format and see it as a way to stay involved in cricket for a while longer.”

Oram, who quit Test cricket in 2009 in a bid to prolong his career, has struggled with injuries in recent years and managed only one ODI and a T20 match against Sri Lanka on tour in October and last month.

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