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25 Nov 2007 19:14
South Africa celebrated Graeme Smith’s 100th one-day international as captain by squeaking home by two wickets in the first MTN one-day international at Kingsmead on Sunday, with Andre Nel snatching the winning run off the last ball of the match.
Man-of-the-match AB de Villiers made 91 for South Africa to provide the backbone of the innings.
Kyle Mills bowled superbly for New Zealand, with career-best figures of five for 25, but once again, New Zealand’s dropped catches cost them dearly.
Chasing 249 to win, South Africa got off to the worse possible start when Morne van Wyk was bowled by Kyle Mills in the first over, before the Proteas had a run.
Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers put on 91 for the third wicket, starting off slowly but gathering momentum as their partnership continued. They required 70 balls for their 50 partnership, but the next 41 came off just 56.
Their stand ended when Smith hooked a delivery from Scott Styris and Chris Martin took the catch right on the boundary. The third umpire viewed the catch from several angles to see if Martin had touched the boundary rope, but in the end Smith received his marching orders. He made 44.
De Villiers and JP Duminy shared a stand of 72 off 80 balls before Daniel Vettori leapt into the air to take a high catch off his own bowling to send De Villiers back for 87. De Villiers, who was dropped by Taylor on 21, faced 103 balls and hit nine boundaries. Their partnership was characterised by some excellent running between the wickets.
The arrival of the new batsman, Mark Boucher, temporarily stemmed the flow of runs, but Duminy eased the pressure when he hit Styris for six. However, he was out shortly afterwards, caught by substitute Jeetan Patel off Chris Martin for 46.
Shaun Pollock made six before he was caught by Taylor off Mills, and Albie Morkel was out three balls later, caught behind by Brendon McCullum without scoring.
Johan Botha made six before he was caught by Lou Vincent off Mills, and it appeared that New Zealand might break their duck of victories, but Mark Boucher and Andre Nel showed their experience as they saw the Proteas home.
With one over to go, South Africa needed 11 runs to win. The first ball, bowled by Mark Gillespie, was a dot ball, and Nel skied the next, but Styris was unable to take the catch and Nel scrambled a single. Boucher ran a single off the next ball, and then Nel hit two fours to tie the scores. He tried to carve the last ball over the covers but it went into the air and the Kingsmead crowd held its breath, only to erupt in cheers when Martin dropped the ball.
Earlier, New Zealand made 248 for six, after a slow start. The hero of their innings was Jamie How, who made 91 and shared in partnerships of 72 with Brendon McCullum and 76 with Styris. McCullum and Styris scored 40 each.
Ross Taylor made a brisk 20 before being caught by Andre Nel off Albie Morkel, and then Andre Nel took two wickets with two successive balls to dismiss How and Gareth Hopkins, who now has the unenviable statistic of having scored no runs at all in the six one-day internationals he has played.
Matthew Sinclair and Kyle Mills scored 25 runs off the last 14 balls, with Sinclair ending on 32 not out off 23 balls and Mills on nine off six.
Pollock was the most economical South African bowler, conceding just 21 runs off 10 overs, including four maidens. Makhaya Ntini was the most expensive, with figures of one for 62 off nine. Nel took three for 46 and Morkel and Johan Botha took a wicket each.—Sapa
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