Cricket: Black Caps keen to take series sweep

New Zealand players celebrate the series victory over South Africa after winning the second one...
New Zealand players celebrate the series victory over South Africa after winning the second one day international at De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images)

All of a sudden the South African cricketers are coming under scrutiny and it's fair to say the Black Caps are taking some satisfaction from it.

New Zealand have the chance to grab an unprecedented 3-0 one-day series whitewash in the final game in Potchefstroom tomorrow morning (NZT) which would further underline their achievement in winning a series in South Africa in any format of the game for the first time.

The last time New Zealand won a three-match series 3-0 against a major team was in 2006-07, when they beat Australia at home. In contrast, South Africa have never lost all matches in a three-match series at home.

The Proteas are wrestling with the absence of a number of top-line players, including Jacques Kallis (rested), Hashim Amla, JP Duminy (both injured) and AB de Villiers (suspended) and a rotation policy that has been unsettling for many.

On top of that, they also have a young skipper in Faf du Plessis, who is standing in for the suspended de Villiers, while test captain and senior batsman Graeme Smith carefully juggles trying to give some guidance without stepping on du Plessis' toes.

They had chances to win both of the first two games but failed to finish off New Zealand in the first and then fell apart in the second.

The Black Caps feel little sympathy for their opponents who were ruthless in their dismantling of New Zealand in the test series.

"Two-nil is a great result for us but 3-0 will be even better, especially after the tour we have had,'' bowling coach Shane Bond said. "We know what it's like to be on the receiving end on this tour so it would be nice to return the favour.

"[South Africa have some players out] but it's part and parcel of cricket. We have got a couple of our best players sitting at home as well so it's probably just evened things out.

"We want to finish the series well. We don't want to get hammered in the last game and people consider [the first two games] a fluke. We want to put in a good performance and win 3-0,''

South African fans have so far been largely patient because of the success they are enjoying in test cricket as the No 1-ranked side in the world, but it won't sit comfortably with them if they lose 3-0 to a New Zealand side who were at one of their lowest points in cricket history a fortnight ago.

South Africa coach Gary Kirsten plans to focus more on one-day cricket this year as they build up to the 2015 World Cup - test cricket was the priority in 2012 - and has his eye on the bigger picture. He makes no apology for experimenting against New Zealand but fans have not enjoyed seeing their side lose.

"We're not proud of our performances especially as we were in winning situations in both games,'' Kirsten told reporters overnight.

"But we've taken a lot out of it and sometimes, to fulfil a longer-term vision, you need to take a few steps back. It gives us clarity where we're going as a team and what our combinations will look like going forward.

"We didn't take New Zealand for granted but we also needed to find a series where we could explore new talent and look to find the right balance. Our long-term vision kicks in where we can explore depth and give others opportunities.''

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