South Africa fought back superbly with the ball to restrict New Zealand before Hashim Amla struck a controlled 48 to lead South Africa to a six-wicket win in the first KFC Twenty20 international match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban on Friday.
Paceman Kagiso Rabada (2-28), left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso (2-29) and seamer David Wiese (2-24) all played their part in helping to restrict the tourists after New Zealand had romped to 102 for one in the 13th over before they were held to 151 for eight.
Opening batsman Amla then scored 48 off 41 balls with four fours and a six as South Africa reached 152 for four with 13 balls of their innings remaining.
South Africa had won the toss and elected to field but they suffered a blow before the toss when captain Faf du Plessis was ruled out with a knee injury. AB de Villiers took over the captaincy with Morne van Wyk drafted into the team as opening batsman and wicketkeeper.
Kane Williamson had been at the heart of New Zealand’s batting attack as he compiled a stylish 42 off just 21 balls with eight fours as he and Martin Guptill put on 68 runs for the first wicket.
But Williamson was stumped off the bowling of Phangiso before Guptill, who scored 42 off 37 balls, was run out.
George Worker looked good in scoring 28 before being trapped leg-before by Phangiso before New Zealand’s innings fell away with Tom Latham (12) the only other man to reach double figures.
“After the start we had we would have liked a few more,” said Williamson after the match.
The Proteas were rarely troubled during their run chase as Amla and Van Wyk (19) put on 35 runs for the first wicket.
Amla then shared in two partnerships of 50 and 59 with De Villiers and Rilee Rossouw respectively to turn the match South Africa’s way.
De Villiers was at his fluent best as he scored 33 off 21 balls while Rossouw was in a belligerent mood as he bashed his way to 38 off 20 deliveries.
“We started a bit slowly (with the ball), but the way we pulled it back was amazing. Credit to Aaron Phangiso, he slowed things down,” said De Villiers.
The second and final T20 will be at Centurion on Sunday before the sides meet in a three-match ODI series.
SOUTH AFRICA: HM Amla, MN van Wyk (wk), AB de Villiers (capt), RR Rossouw, DA Miller, F Behardien, D Wiese, AM Phangiso, KJ Abbott, K Rabada, M Morkel
NEW ZEALAND: MJ Guptill, TWM Latham, GH Worker, KS Williamson (capt), C Munro, GD Elliott, L Ronchi (wk), NL McCullum, DAJ Bracewell, AF Milne, MJ McClenaghan