NZ edge SA, end record quest
New Zealand, spearheaded by the centurion Ross Taylor and the left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, edged South Africa by six runs to end the Standard Bank Proteas’ quest for a record 13th successive one-day international victory at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Wednesday.
Full Scorecard: New Zealand v South Africa
They have squared the one-day international series after their loss in Hamilton on Friday.
In a pulsating match at the Hagley Oval that went right down to the wire thanks to the late onslaught by a defiant Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo who almost pulled the game out of the fire, South Africa finished on 283 for nine. They finished just seven runs away from glory after New Zealand batted first and hammered 289 for four.
Taylor slammed an unbeaten 102 off 108 balls, his 17th one-day international century for New Zealand. He featured in a record partnership of 123 with Jimmy Neesham (71 off 57 balls) for the fifth wicket against South Africa.
The 32-year-old, who had shared the record of 16 with Nathan Astle, has been in a rich vein of form since returning from eye surgery in early January.
"Nath was one of my idols growing up... so it's a little bit embarrassing from that point of view but records are there to be broken," he said.
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Earlier, Kane Williamson struck 69 off 75 balls with six fours and featured in a 104-run stand with Taylor.
These two top-order batsmen tamed South Africa’s bowling ace, Imran Tahir, and made the attack look ordinary.
South Africa finished with 283 for nine. A middle-order meltdown did not do the visitors any favours.
They lost four wickets in the space of five overs for the addition of 22 runs as New Zealand seized the initiative to reduce South Africa to 192 for five.
Two overs later, AB de Villiers attempted a hook shot off Boult and was caught behind off an under-edge of the bat for 45.
Chris Morris was run out for seven and Santner trapped Wayne Parnell in front for a duck as South Africa plummeted to 214 for eight.
Pretorius led a magnificent counter-offensive in tandem with Phehlukwayo and added 71 in 7.2 overs for the ninth wicket. Pretorius slammed two excellent sixes and four fours in his 50 off 27 balls to give South Africa a sniff.
When he was bowled by Boult in the penultimate over, it effectively terminated South Africa’s winning chances. Phehlukwayo could only score eight runs in the final overs after declining singles off the first four balls of the 50th over. Tim Southee bowled expert Yorkers in that over.
RUSH OF BLOOD ENDS DE KOCK
Quinton de Kock struck his fourth successive half-century, slamming 57 off 65 balls before he had a rush of blood off Boult and was caught by Neesham on the mid-wicket boundary.
It looked as if De Villiers and Miller had South Africa cantering to a win with a 68-run partnership for the fifth wicket in 12 overs, but the departure of Miller proved to be the turning point.
When surveying the facts objectively, the New Zealand attack performed much better than their South African counterparts.
Boult and Southee were able to use the yorkers expertly in crucial moments, while Santner controlled the middle of the innings with astute slow bowling and kept the run-rate in check.
Pretorius was full value for his 2-40 and was accuracy and skill personified. He used the cutters well and built the pressure.
Unfortunately, none of the other bowlers were able to support him adequately. Parnell took 1-49 in eight overs, while Tahir nipped out 1-61 in 10 overs. Morris conceded 58 runs in 10 overs, while Phehlukwayo came under fire because of his tendency to revert back to the slower cutters continuously and his 9 overs cost 62 runs.
South Africa would also bemoan the ability of their batsmen to convert useful scores into great ones, as none of De Kock (57), JP Duminy (34), De Villiers (45) or Miller (28) proceeded to three figures.
De Villiers blamed "sloppy" batting for the defeat.
"We've got a few things to work on," he said. "There were quite a few soft dismissals, including mine, and not enough good partnerships.
"The partnerships that we did get going we couldn't extend, you have to do that if you want to win games of cricket."
NEW ZEALAND: DG Brownlie, TWM Latham (wk), KS Williamson (capt), LRPL Taylor, NT Broom, JDS Neesham, MJ Santner, C de Grandhomme, IS Sodhi, TG Southee, TA Boult
SOUTH AFRICA: HM Amla, Q de Kock (wk), F du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, DA Miller, CH Morris, WD Parnell, AL Phehlukwayo, D Pretorius, Imran Tahir