Proteas bounce back to ease past New Zealand
Hosts South Africa quickly recovered from defeat less than 48 hours previously against Sri Lanka to comfortably beat New Zealand by five wickets yesterday at Centurion. After bowling out the Kiwis for 214, with Wayne Parnell taking a five wicket haul and Roelof van der Merwe (2/35) producing an impressive ten over spell, AB De Villiers led the way as the Proteas chased down their target with nearly nine overs to spare.
Graeme Smith again won the toss and perhaps bravely, having inserted Sri Lanka on Tuesday and been on the receiving end of a Tillakaratne Dilshan blitz, again opted to field. This time however, Dale Steyn and Parnell opened the bowling under slightly overcast conditions, and it was Parnell who took advantage with the early wicket of Jesse Ryder (8). Brendan McCullum and Martin Guptill then made steady progress before Parnell struck again by having Guptill (21) caught by Hashim Amla at the end of the 13th over. That brought the stylish Ross Taylor to the crease and it was he who was to prove the bedrock of the New Zealand innings.
Following the bowling powerplay, Smith turned to his spinners van der Merwe and Johan Botha. Both bowled well, particularly the former, and coupled with the attacking fields set by the Proteas captain New Zealand found run scoring extremely difficult. Indeed, only 72 runs were added between the 15th and 35th overs. Even McCullum (44) was becalmed before Botha removed him to make the score 92/3 in the 24th over.
Taylor and Grant Elliott then built the biggest partnership of the innings with Taylor, arguably the Kiwi’s most talented batsman, mixing sound defence with attacking shots mainly through the arc of point to gully. Between them the pair added 71 and looked to have given their side a platform to accelerate in the last ten overs before van der Merwe bowled Elliott (39) with the last ball of the 39th over. This left New Zealand at 163/4 and a score of 240-250, which would have been a decent effort, looked possible.
Unfortunately for the Black Caps, Elliott’s dismissal was the precursor to a collapse that saw the last seven wickets fall for only 51 runs. First, Neil Broom (1) became van der Merwe’s second victim before Parnell ruined the Kiwi’s batting powerplay by removing Hopkins (13), top scorer Taylor (72) and Daryl Tuffey (4) in quick succession. With Kyle Mills (0) and Shane Bond (0) both falling to Steyn, New Zealand were all out without using their allotted 50 overs.
Despite losing Smith (7) early on the South Africans never looked in any real danger of not reaching their target. Jacques Kallis looked in prime form in scoring 36 at nearly a run a ball during a partnership of 52 with Amla before being caught behind off Bond. Amla (38) fell soon after leg before to Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori and when JP Duminy (11) was caught behind off Mills some Proteas supporters may have started getting a bit hot under the collar.
However, with only 77 wanted off 23 overs, De Villiers and his new partner Mark Boucher had no need for concern and serenely led their team towards the win. Boucher scored a run a ball 24 before falling to Tuffey, so it was left to Albie Morkel (19 not out) to accompany De Villiers (70 not out) to the winning post. De Villiers played extremely well mixing a steady accumulation of singles with nine boundaries at regular intervals.
So the hosts are firmly back in the running for a semi-final place and victory over England in their next game should see them safely secure their berth. New Zealand, on the other hand, know they will probably have to beat Sri Lanka and England in order to progress from the group and on today’s evidence at least the former is not very likely.
Tomorrow’s match sees England enter the fray against a Sri Lanka team high on confidence after demolishing the hosts in the tournament opener. Please see my earlier blog for an overview of England’s chances. Given that today’s game again showed the effectiveness of spin it is hoped that both Swann and Rashid will be selected.
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