FOCUSED: Opener Henry Davids was one of the stars in the Proteas’ win over New Zealand in the series-deciding third and final Twenty20 international in  Port Elizabeth on Wednesday. South Africa won the first match at Kingsmead last week before New Zealand drew level  with a victory at  Buffalo Park at the  weekend. Picture:  GALLO IMAGES
FOCUSED: Opener Henry Davids was one of the stars in the Proteas’ win over New Zealand in the series-deciding third and final Twenty20 international in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday. South Africa won the first match at Kingsmead last week before New Zealand drew level with a victory at Buffalo Park at the weekend. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

PORT ELIZABETH — South Africa won the first trophy available to them in their home summer with victory over New Zealand in the three-match Twenty20 series.

After piling on 179/6, the fifth-highest score posted in the shortest format (at both international and domestic level) at St George’s Park — thanks largely to an 89-run third-wicket stand between Henry Davids and Justin Ontong — Aaron Phangiso and Ryan McLaren ensured South Africa defended it comfortably.

All of New Zealand’s bowlers, save for Mitchell McClenaghan and Ronnie Hira, failed to read the pace of the Port Elizabeth pitch. Against the aggression of Davids and Ontong they gave away too many runs, which allowed the pair to lay the launch-pad for takeoff.

New Zealand did not have the batsmen to do the same. With Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum at the crease, there was some hope. Once the dominoes began to fall, there was no stopping the slide. Still, New Zealand competed with the hosts with more heart than was expected of them, to hopefully set the tone for the Test matches.

As an example of their ability to ruffle feathers, New Zealand had the hosts in early trouble, even in the absence of Richard Levi.

South Africa’s opening partnership stuttered again when Faf du Plessis — who was promoted to bat in his preferred top-two spot — was bowled by Ronnie Hira as he tried to hit through mid-wicket.

Levi’s omission also meant Quinton de Kock was given more responsibility at No3, but his inexperience showed. Instead of rotating strike while Davids kept going, De Kock tried to loft McClenaghan over long-on and got a leading edge.

Corey Anderson ran from mid-off to take the catch at mid-on and De Kock’s series with the bat ended without him living up to the hype.

Davids had none of the same expectation but exceeded all hopes. He displayed a range of classic shots, tinged only with some extra intent.

The drive off the back foot and the pull shot were his hallmarks, but more notable was that he scored off almost every ball he faced. Both he and Ontong pushed each other between the wickets and put pressure on the New Zealand fielders.

The only chance they offered was when Davids went aerial against Doug Bracewell and lobbed the ball to Martin Guptill at short extra cover. Guptill seemed to lose the ball in the background and although he got fingers to it, spilt the chance. Davids was on 32 and went on to more than double his score.

As Davids grew in confidence, so did Ontong, whose assurance swelled against James Franklin. Ontong hit him for back to back sixes: down the ground and then to deep mid-wicket, but Franklin won the mini-battle when Ontong was caught trying to send another slower ball over the leg-side boundary.

Still, he had taken 16 runs off the five balls he faced in that over and South Africa had 116 runs and seven wickets in hand as they approached the last five overs. Those turned out to be the most profitable, even though Davids departed midway through.

South Africa added 63 runs in the final quarter of their innings, thanks to their big hitters. Farhaan Behardien and David Miller both struck the ball cleanly against New Zealand’s clueless death bowlers.

Contrastingly, South Africa’s attack had a firm grip on what was required. Ryan McClaren had Rob Nicol lbw in the first over when he was struck in line of middle and off stump. Guptill showed glimpses of the form he displayed three days ago when his 101 took New Zealand to victory. He drove with power and was assisted by McCullum, who seemed to finally find his placement.

Just as the two batsmen settled, Guptill tried to paddle Phangiso over short fine-leg, but was caught by Robin Peterson. Phangiso claimed another big scalp in his next over, when McCullum thought he had got him over long-off but was caught on the boundary.

New Zealand remained in the hunt and after 11 overs had the same score South Africa had posted — 71 — but had lost two more wickets. Colin Munro edged a McLaren short ball and James Franklin swung to long-on to give Phangiso his third.

The point of no return was reached when Morne Morkel leapt to his left at short third man to send Jimmy Neesham on his way. The required run rate climbed to over 14 an over with six to go and only last rites were left to be performed. Rory Kleinveldt took the ninth wicket, but Morne Morkel finished without reward as a new South African era made itself known.

For New Zealand, much to work on remains. They were suspected to have bled 20 runs too many, but in the end, on 146/9, were almost double that short.

Cricinfo.com