After coming up with an impressive win in the first ODI, South Africa were eager to turn triumphant against New Zealand in the second ODI as well and clinch the series. But, things did not go according to plan for South Africa, who were outplayed in the second ODI as New Zealand levelled the series at 1-1.
Hence the third ODI at Kingsmead in Durban on Wednesday will be a winner-takes-all encounter.
New Zealand have played some good cricket in this ODI series. Though they lost the first ODI at Supersport Park in Centurion, New Zealand put up a brave fight while chasing a score of 304 runs, with the Black Caps falling short by 20 runs.
Had any of the New Zealand batsmen converted their starts into big scores, they could have well crossed the finishing line. However, the New Zealand batsmen learned from their mistakes and showcased a better performance in the second ODI, as they chased Proteas' modest target of 204 runs, while losing just two wickets. Martin Guptill starred with a match-winning century.
The South Africa middle order has not stood up and taken responsibility in the absence of Faf du Plessis. Even quality players such as AB de Villiers and David Miller have failed to create an impression so far, which has been a major setback, as South Africa depend on the duo's batting exploits in the middle order.
If these two players get going, South Africa look a far more dangerous side. It is time for them to showcase their skills and help the Proteas avoid another series defeat, after their loss to Bangladesh last month.
South Africa coach Russell Domingo is aware of the importance of a series win against New Zealand. "The South African media and the public can be harsh. They want wins and we are fully aware that we need to win this series, considering our performances in Bangladesh," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Domingo as saying.
South Africa might be missing some of their key players such as Morne Morkel, Du Plessis and JP Duminy in the series, but that can be no excuse for the home team not performing, as New Zealand are also missing some of their key players in Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum and Trent Boult.
Where to Watch Live
After an entertaining first two ODI matches, cricket fans will be eager to watch the third ODI, which has been scheduled for 12:30pm local time (4pm IST, 11:30am BST, 6:30am ET) with live TV coverage in India on Ten Cricket and live streaming option on tensports.com.
UK viewers can watch the South Africa vs New Zealand third ODI live on Sky Sports 3 and Sky Sports 3HD with an option of live streaming on Sky Go, while the South African viewers can watch the South Africa vs New Zealand 3rd ODI on Supersport.
US viewers have the luxury of watching the South Africa vs New Zealand 3rd ODI live on Willow TV with live streaming option on Willow TV Online.