S. Africa floor NZ by 8 wkts in T20 opener McCullum backs misfiring Kiwis after rout

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 22, (AP): An experimental South Africa team romped to an eight-wicket win over New Zealand in their opening Twenty20 game on Friday after the Black Caps slumped to their third-lowest T20 score in a dismal start to their tour. South Africa needed just 12.1 overs to reach 87-2 and overhaul New Zealand’s 86 all out. Left badly exposed by the absence of experienced players themselves — including former captain Ross Taylor — New Zealand needed 23 from debutant Colin Munro to help it past its record low in 20-over games, 80 all out against Pakistan in 2010.

Seamer Rory Kleinvedlt (3-18) and left-arm spinner Robin Peterson (2-8) did the bowling damage for the Proteas while stand-in captain Faf du Plessis led South Africa home in his first game in charge, hitting the winning runs and finishing 38 not out. Wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock was 28 not out on his international debut. “No complaints, it was a fantastic game for us. Very happy,” Du Plessis said. “It’s the standard we’ve set, but the standard we have to keep for the remainder of the series.” Desperate to perform well under new skipper Brendon McCullum and put aside the controversy over the exit of Taylor as captain, New Zealand’s relatively experienced top order all failed — leabing the four debutants it fielded in the series-opener with little chance to revive the innings.

McCullum was one of the failures as he fell for six to a relentless South African seam attack. The visitors were 36-6 at one stage before the South African-born Munro and then tailender Doug Bracewell (21 not out) gave them some small respectability.
Rob Nicol (3), Peter Fulton (9), McCullum and James Franklin (0) all went cheaply at the start of the innings as South African seamers Kleinveldt, Dale Steyn (2-13), Chris Morris (2-19) and Ryan McLaren (1-27) cashed in on regular mistimed attacking shots by the Black Caps batsmen.
Peterson then helped mop up the tail with his 2-8 off four overs — the most economical bowling from a South African in T20 internationals.
“We came here to play some aggressive cricket,” New Zealand captain McCullum said. “But first things first we do have to do some fundamentals right to earn the right to be aggressive ... We got a couple of things we didn’t get right.”

Munro, who made his New Zealand debut back in the city of his birth, Durban, hit four fours in a brief counterattack. Bracewell struck three boundaries in a 21-run partnership with Ronnie Hira for the ninth wicket — the highest stand of the innings. New Zealand was still bowled out with 10 balls remaining of its 20 overs.
Debutant fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan removed Richard Levi for a duck in the first over of South Africa’s reply for a rare high spot for the tourists.
But Henry Davids — also on his debut — hit a six and three fours in his 20 from 13 balls to kick start the Proteas’ chase and new leader Du Plessis continued his belligerent form from the victorious tour of Australia to take South Africa home.
Meanwhile, McCullum was unapologetic for his team’s approach after South Africa trounced them.
“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, with several of the batsmen falling to over-ambitious strokes.

“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 on Sunday.
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 were missing several key players, including former captain Ross Taylor, who was unavailable for the tour, and they 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.

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