South Africa issued an immediate warning by opening their tour of New Zealand with a decisive Twenty20 win over Canterbury in Christchurch tonight.
Tall left-arm fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe collected a hat-trick while taking four for 18 as the Canterbury Wizards were dismissed for 130 at Hagley Oval, leaving the tourists to enjoy a 20-run victory.
The Wizards’ lower order wagged vigorously after the batting specialists had been unsettled by Tsotsobe, who split his hat-trick between the second and fourth overs when George Worker was caught on the edge of the circle hitting straight, skipper Peter Fulton chopped on to his stumps then Shanan Stewart was trapped leg before wicket.
That left their chase in tatters at nine for three after 19 balls but Tsotsobe wasn’t yet finished, with the impressive seamer then having new international Tom Latham flick a ball off his hip to wicketkeeper AB de Villiers.
Canterbury’s plight worsened further at 28 for five after Reece Young found a boundary rider when hooking seamer Rusty Theron directly to deep square leg.
But the home side’s lower order at least entertained a 4000-strong crowd with some lusty hitting in increasingly gloomy conditions as the tourists were reminded they were in a contest.
After Henry Nicholls managed 18 off 17 balls, Matt Henry swung his bat with abandon to bludgeon five sixes in a 17-ball 42 before edging fast bowler Morne Morkel behind in the 18th over and Matt McEwan scored 30 off 33 before being the last man out with one over remaining.
Earlier, Canterbury’s young and raw bowling attack had done a commendable job reining in the South African batsmen after the tourists began strongly.
With pugnacious opener Richard Levi muscling the ball to all parts they rushed to 80 without loss in eight overs before Fulton turned to his spinners to hold back the tide.
His slow men did better than that, with Tim Johnston and Worker operating in tandem as South Africa lost 28 for four in the next six overs, cleverly mixing their pace up to at least put some doubt in the minds of the batsmen.
Among those to depart in this period were Levi, who had smacked a boundary-laden 63 off 32 balls when he charged left-armer Worker, missed the ball and was bowled.
Levi looked full of serious intent although he had little need for running as 10 fours and three sixes flowed from his bat.
His opening partner Hashim Amla’s was the fourth wicket to fall at 107 when he was bowled after being deceived by Johnston, whom he attempted to sweep, ending a measured knock of 35 off 33 balls.
JP Duminy then chipped in with 24 but South Africa’s total was at least 40 shy of what had been promised in the earlier overs.
Worker and Johnston were the standouts for the home side, the former taking three for 23 and the latter one for 24, both of four overs, while seamer Henry impressed as well in taking one for 27 off four.
South Africa now prepare for the first of three Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand, at Wellington on Friday night.