New Zealand beat SA to reach semis

New Zealand exploited favourable early bowling conditions on Saturday to defeat South Africa by five wickets and follow defending champions Australia into the World Cup semifinals.

On an overcast morning with a hint of rain in the air, Shane Bond and James Franklin took a wicket each in the first three overs and Craig McMillan picked up three cheap wickets near the end to restrict South Africa to 193 for seven.

Captain Stephen Fleming, dropped twice, scored an even 50 and the prolific Scott Styris, who was also let off after scoring only four, reached 56 as New Zealand attained their target from 48.2 overs.

The 10 points New Zealand have now gathered qualifies them for the semifinals on April 24 and 25. South Africa, the world’s top-ranked side before the tournament began, must beat England in their final Super Eights match in Barbados next Tuesday and hope other results go their way to reach the semis.

After Fleming had won the toss and asked South Africa to bat, skipper Graeme Smith could make little of Bond’s opening over, the second of the day.

He played and missed four in a row, including a no-ball, before pushing the fifth to Jacob Oram at cover diving forward after scoring only a single.

Left-armer Franklin, a transformed bowler when given some assistance from the elements, jagged the final delivery of his second over back into AB de Villiers’s pads and won an lbw decision before the opener had scored. It was De Villier’s fourth duck of the tournament.

Impressive Patel

Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs, although beaten repeatedly outside their off-stumps, resurrected the innings. Both struck Oram over his head for sixes and they took the total to 52 when Kallis (22) mishit Daniel Vettori to Bond at mid-off.

Jeetan Patel, recalled in place of Mark Gillespie to partner Vettori, bowled a highly impressive spell of off-spin, varying his flight and pace cleverly in an initial spell of eight overs for 19 runs.

A subdued Gibbs reached his eighth World Cup half-century but was then out for 60 from 100 balls when he played McMillan’s medium pace on to his stumps and the remaining batsmen got starts but failed to capitalise.

New Zealand lost Peter Fulton caught at slip off Makhaya Ntini for 16 and then Ross Taylor lbw to Andre Nel for 10 with the total on 42.

Fleming and Styris took the score to 120 before the Kiwi captain was out to the next ball after completing his half-century from 83 balls with six fours, edging Shaun Pollock to Mark Boucher standing up to the stumps.

Styris, who averaged over a hundred before Saturday, knocked the ball into the gaps to reach his fifth score in excess of 50 in the tournament from 77 balls before he was caught by Gibbs off left-arm spinner Robin Petersen.

McMillan (38 not out) scored freely at the end, striking Petersen for a mighty six and hitting Ntini over his head for four. – Reuters 2007

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