South Africa captain AB de Villiers anchored his side to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand in the opening one-day international at the Bay Oval.
De Villiers (89 not out) combined with JP Duminy (58 not out) in a 139-run partnership after a tight and varied New Zealand bowling attack had given the hosts the sniff of an unlikely victory when they reduced them to 97-4 in the 25th over at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
But De Villiers completed his 39th ODI half-century, while Duminy compiled his 20th and hit a six to win the game as the tourists finished on 236-4, chasing New Zealand's 230, with 29 balls to spare.
Both teams are using the three-match series to prepare for next year's World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.
New Zealand's batsmen did little to help their chances of being selected and were bailed out by keeper Luke Ronchi, who finished – agonisingly – on 99, and last man Trent Boult (21no), who put on a Kiwi ODI record of 74 for the last wicket.
Ronchi, 33, got within one of his first ODI century but was caught in two minds and only succeeded in giving wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock his fifth catch of the innings and sixth dismissal overall with the stumping of Tom Latham.
The innings by Ronchi, under pressure from Test wicketkeeper BJ Watling for a place in the World Cup squad, showed coach Mike Hesson he could be the ideal player to close out New Zealand's innings after hitting three sixes and 11 other boundaries in his 83-ball stay.
The experiment of using all-rounder Jimmy Neesham as an opener did not work out for the hosts – he departed for 16, dismissed by fit-again Vernon Philander along with his partner Martin Guptill (5).
The middle order got starts – with the exception of Corey Anderson, bowled first ball by Morne Morkel – but did not capitalise.
It was left to Ronchi and last man Boult to give them something to bowl at.
Having given them a chance with the bat, Boult gave them real hope with the ball, dismissing De Kock (9) and Faf du Plessis (8).
Hashim Amla (38 off 74) and Rilee Roussow (26) patiently steadied the ship but when they fell, the tourists were limping on 97-4, having used up half their overs.
But the bowlers could find no way past the broad bats of De Villiers and Duminy who steered their team to victory.