White Ferns v South Africa: New Zealand bat first in Auckland series-opener

South Africa have cruised to a convincing seven-wicket victory over the White Ferns in the opening clash of their one-day series at Auckland's Eden Park.

Set 260 runs to win, the visitors achieved that target with nine balls to spare, guided home by near-centuries from openers Lizelle Lee and Laura Woolvaardt.

The pair compiled a stand of 163 runs for the first wicket, before Lee tragically fell - caught by Suzie Bates, off Hayley Jensen's bowling - one run short of her third ODI ton. Her 99 runs came off as many balls and featured 13 boundaires.

Woolvaardt was more circumspect, carrying her bat to the end of the innings for 91 runs off 124 balls. She found another willing ally in captain Dane van Niekerk, who contributed 37 to a 64-run stand that brought the South Africans within 16 runs of victory.

After losing the toss, New Zealand were asked to bat first and built their run rate throughout the innings, hitting 50 runs off the final five overs.

Katie Perkins led the charge with 78 runs off 83 balls, including six boundaries, before she was the ninth and last NZ batter dismissed in the final over. That performance represented her highest ODI score and her fourth half-century at that level.

Bates brought up her 26th ODI fifty, with a carefully compiled 53, while tail-ender Jensen rattled off 19 runs from 11 balls, including the innings' only six, to produce a 50-run partnership with Perkins at the death.

But they were unable to defend their 259/9 in the field and must now bounce back in the second encounter in Hamilton on Monday.