BIRMINGHAM: New Zealand cruised to the top of the table with a fantastic four-wicket win in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 contest against South Africa on Wednesday.
The ghosts of the 2015 World Cup semi-final once again came to haunt South Africa at Edgbaston as New Zealand yet again finished on the winning side, chasing a target of 242.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson played one of the great World Cup innings to steer his side to a tense four-wicket victory. Needing eight to win from the final over, Williamson swept the second ball for six to complete a majestic century. And he sliced the next away for four to see the Black Caps past their target of 242 with three balls to spare. He was aided by Colin de Grandhomme’s superb 60 off 47 balls after the Kiwis had slipped to 137-5.
South Africa squandered chances to remove both during an absorbing finale, including failing to ask for a review before replays showed Williamson had nicked Imran Tahir behind to Quinton de Kock on 76. De Grandhomme was caught at long-off trying to hit the first ball of the penultimate over for six but the unflappable Williamson took his side home, ending unbeaten on 106.
South Africa posted 241-5 following Rassie van der Dussen’s 67 not out and Hashim Amla’s scratchy 55. Their circumspect approach on a tricky two-paced pitch was not quite enough though, with a fourth defeat in six matches effectively eliminating South Africa from semi-final contention. New Zealand remain unbeaten, with four wins and a no result in their five games so far, and move back to the top of the table.
The start of the game was delayed due to wet outfield and was eventually reduced to 49 overs a side. Sent in to bat, South Africa got off to a shaky start, losing opener Quinton de Kock early in the second over for 5 off a bit of Trent Boult brilliance – it was the fifth time the South African became the paceman’s victim in ODI cricket.
The New Zealand quicks kept Amla and Faf du Plessis in check for a while. However, just when the partnership started to flourish, Lockie Ferguson cleaned up du Plessis for 23. Aiden Markram also shared a crucial 52-run stand with Amla, but the latter’s wicket saw South Africa stuttering at 111/3. Both of Markram (38) and David Miller (36) got starts but failed to convert their innings into a big one. It was Rassie van der Dussen who top-scored for his side, his unbeaten 67 from 64 lifting South Africa to 241/6.
New Zealand too lost an early wicket as Kagiso Rabada had Colin Munro caught and bowled for 9. Guptill along with Williamson played with caution and made steady progress.