SA snatch win from New Zealand

An undefeated 52 by AB de Villiers helped South Africa to a three-wicket victory over New Zealand in the Standard Bank Pro20 at the Wanderers on Friday night. Needing 130 to win, South Africa made 131 for seven, with a ball to spare.

New Zealand will rue their dropped catches—Kyle Mills dropped De Villiers when he was on six, and Mark Gillespie dropped Mark Boucher on one. Boucher only made six more runs, but the De Villiers drop probably cost New Zealand the match.

Graeme Smith won the toss and put the Black Caps in to bat.
The 19 000 fans roared its approval when veteran Shaun Pollock opened the bowling, and their hero did not let them down, finishing with career-best figures of three for 28. Albie Morkel took two for 29, and Dale Steyn—playing in his first international Pro20—and Johan Botha took one apiece.

New Zealand lost wickets at regular intervals and were unable to build any substantial partnerships until the last few overs, when top-scorer Kyle Mills and Mark Gillespie put on 31 runs together. Mills was not out on 33 off 24 balls, while Scott Styris contributed 30 off 27.

Smith and Jacques Kallis, who was hoping to prove a point to the selectors, opened the batting for South Africa. Kallis hit a magnificent boundary off the second ball he faced, but Mills got his revenge in the next over when he caught Kallis off Gillespie for four.

Smith went in the fifth over, caught behind by Brendon McCullum off Mills for seven.

JP Duminy and AB de Villiers put on 31 for the third wicket before Duminy, who had hit three fours and two sixes, was stumped by McMillan off Daniel Vettori for 33.

De Villiers and Mark Boucher shared a stand of 25 before Boucher was given out leg before wicket to Jeetan Patel for seven. Pollock faced five balls before being caught by Taylor off Patel for six.

With South Africa well ahead on the required run rate, Vettori called on one of his most experienced teammates, Scott Styris, who gave his captain what he wanted when he collected the wicket of big-hitting Albie Morkel with his second ball, with Vettori taking the catch.

Seven runs were needed off the last over and the crowd groaned when Vernon Philander was run out by some smart work by Ross Taylor and Lou Vincent. De Villiers got a single off the next ball, and then Johan Botha skied the ball. Four New Zealanders—Styris, McCullum, Mills and Gareth Hopkins—converged on it, but it dropped harmlessly among them as Botha and De Villiers scampered two. Botha finished it off with a four off the fifth ball of the over, and South Africa had won by three wickets.

“We controlled most of the game, although we didn’t finish it as well as we’d have liked,” said Smith. “But it was good experience for the younger players—guys like Vernon, Albie, batting with AB, that’s the key. The more experience they get, the more confident they will be about finishing games under pressure.

“That’s why guys like Pollock and Boucher have been so good over the years. It was an opportunity for them to learn from, and we still won. I thought AB marshalled things very well. So generally I was very happy with the way things went.”

Vettori said he was happy with his team’s bowling, but the batting and fielding had let the side down. “Our batting was really disappointing, and to let those catches go down, and to miss a run out—that really hurts in this form of the game,” he said. “It’s just not acceptable because that’s how you win games in tough parts of the world.”

The teams meet again at Kingsmead in Durban on Sunday, in the first of three one-day internationals. The second will be played at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday and the final match will be played at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday December 2.—Sapa

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