Martin Guptill hit 60 as New Zealand earned a share of the series by winning the second Twenty 20 international against South Africa by 32 runs at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
New Zealand made 7-177 – their highest total in a Twenty20 international against the Proteas – before restricting South Africa to 8-145.
Stand-in captain Kane Williamson, leading a side missing several key players was delighted with what he described as “a much improved effort” following defeat by six wickets in the first match in Durban on Friday.
“We touched on a few areas which we needed to improve on after Durban,” said Williamson.
“We wanted a few more runs in the middle overs and we managed that. We took wickets at crucial moments but we were also quite smart with our bowling.”
South Africa were never on target in the chase after losing their first three batsmen, including world stars Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, for 47 runs inside seven overs.
New Zealand spinners Nathan McCullum and Ish Sodhi both took two wickets and were economical on a pitch which Williamson admitted got more difficult to bat on in the second innings.
De Villiers, again captaining South Africa in the absence of an injured Faf du Plessis, said his side were well beaten.
“We were definitely below par with the ball today and unfortunately we lost wickets at crucial times,” he said.
The sides start a three-match one-day series at the same venue on Wednesday.
As in the first match, Guptill and Williamson got their side off to a fast start, putting on 52 off 5.3 overs before Williamson was caught at third man off Kagiso Rabada for 25.
Guptill smashed his 60 off 35 balls.
South African quick Rabada took 3-30.