South Africa within record reachSave
By David Leggat
New Zealand might not know this - indeed the South Africans mightn't either - but the visitors are within touching distance of a small piece of history when the keenly-anticipated ODI starts in Hamilton tomorrow.
Successful runs of form are all the rage between these two teams.
New Zealand have won 26 of their last 30 home ODIs; pare that back to the last six completed ODIs at home.
As for South Africa, they've won their last 11 ODIs, all at home. The key number is 12, which is their record run set in 2005.
So this is a clash between two confident, assertive teams. These are two teams who have performed strongly at home but New Zealand have a question mark still to address away from home, after series losses in India and Australia before Christmas.
That won't be worth a conversation for now but South Africa's test and T20 skipper Faf du Plessis made the point this week that if South Africa can bring New Zealand down, in their own backyard, he'll rate it a significant feather in the cap.
There is strong mutual respect between the teams. You only need to listen to the captains to know that.
New Zealand are sure to miss the blockbusting exploits at the top of the order of Martin Guptill. Having got over his left hamstring strain, he's now swapped it over to the right leg and is out for the first two ODIs.
That immediately takes away some of that important early strike power. His replacement Dean Brownlie and Tom Latham skin the early overs a different way. But the impact of Guptill's absence could throw more onus on both the openers and the middle order to step up more rapidly than they might ordinarily do.
Guptill is, as was his former opening partner Brendon McCullum, capable of seriously damaging hitting.
Brownlie's 63 against Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee series clincher at Hamilton a couple of weeks ago was lauded by players and coaching staff. He has made himself a kind of 12th man of the batting group, first man in when a hole pops up.
Ross Taylor made a fine century last time out at Seddon Park against Australia. This will also be after a week of verbal jousting over why he was not in the T20 side. That can now be put to rest until later this year.
The placement of the pitch on the Seddon Park block could again determine whether there's a place for legspinner Ish Sodhi. Evidently that was what counted against him for the Australian match.
The teams have met in an ODI at Hamilton just once, a no result contest in late 2014. In New Zealand, they've played 22 times, New Zealand winning 10, losing nine with three washouts.
It's an appealing prospect. South Africa's bowling has a touch of the developmental about it in the absence of pace kings Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, but the batting is muscular and runs deep.
Just cross the fingers that the forecast picks up.
First ODI, Seddon Park, 2pm tomorrow
New Zealand (from): Kane Williamson ©, Dean Brownlie, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, Jimmy Neesham, Mitch Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Luke Ronchi, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.
South Africa (from): AB de Villiers ©, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Imran Tahir, Kagiso Rabada, Dane Paterson, Dwayne Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi.