"There's a reason why we're No. 1 and that's because we're playing good cricket." © AFP

“There’s a reason why we’re No. 1 and that’s because we’re playing good cricket.” © AFP

South Africa’s cricketers have “unfinished business” in New Zealand, according to AB de Villiers, the One-Day International captain.

Speaking ahead of the team’s departure for New Zealand on Saturday (February 11), de Villiers said South Africa were keen to avenge their defeat in a dramatic 2015 World Cup semifinal which was marked by controversy over South Africa’s team selection. South Africa brought in Vernon Philander for Kyle Abbott in that game — a decision made, it was claimed, to ensure four players of colour in the starting XI.

South Africa will travel as the world’s leading one-day team after completing a 5-0 clean sweep against Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park on Friday.

In less than a week they will play a one-off Twenty20 International in Auckland next Friday, with the first of five ODIs in Hamilton two days later.

De Villiers said the No. 1 ranking gave the team confidence but also put pressure on the players. “Being the No. 1 team in the world, people expect you to play a certain level of cricket all the time,” he said.

“But with the team ethic we have at the moment, I think we’ll thrive under that kind of pressure. It definitely gives you confidence as well. There’s a reason why we’re No. 1 and that’s because we’re playing good cricket.

“We’ve got a bit of unfinished business there from the 2015 World Cup and we’re very keen to play good cricket against a team that has also been playing well. I think we deserve to be No. 1 and we want to carry on playing the way we have been.”

De Villiers said he expected a tough challenge. “New Zealand are a street-smart team and they find ways to compete, but we have a decent record there. The last few tours we have been there we have played really good cricket.”

Faf du Plessis, who will captain the team in the T20Is as well as a three-match Test series which follows the ODIs, said overcoming jet lag would be the immediate challenge for the squad.

“Normally we go there and we’ve got about a week to ten days to get over jet lag. We rested a lot of players from our T20I series against Sri Lanka, but we still should have won. All our players are back now and we’ve got an opportunity to perform well in a one-off game.”

Russell Domingo, the coach said: “Schedules are so tight these days, but we can’t be seen to be making any excuses. We want to start the tour playing good cricket.”

South Africa limited-overs squad: AB de Villiers (ODI capt), Faf du Plessis (T20I capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi.

Fixtures:

February 17: Only T20I, Auckland

February 19: First ODI, Hamilton

February 22: Second ODI, Christchurch

February 25: Third ODI, Wellington

March 1: Fourth ODI, Napier

March 4: Fifth ODI, Auckland

March 8-12: First Test, Dunedin

March 16-20: Second Test, Wellington

March 25-29: Third Test, Hamilton