There are some 20 World Cup group games still to run but after New Zealand’s Kane Williamson produced an epic unbeaten 106 to overcome South Africa in a tense finale at Edgbaston, the identity of the four semi-finalists is already taking shape.
Williamson’s 138-ball masterclass on a pitch that prevented risk-free shot-making was an innings for the ages. The right-hander brought up his 12th ODI century with a six that levelled the scores in the final over, before guiding a four that completed a chase of 242 with three balls and four wickets to spare.
In doing so the Black Caps’ captain to all intents knocked out South Africa and dented Bangladesh’s chances of breaking the top four. With England second and fourth-placed India having a game in hand, Mashrafe Mortaza’s side must beat third-placed Australia in Nottingham on Thursday and hope further upsets can truly re-open the race for the chasing pack.
South Africa will not be among them and have three games in which to play for pride. And, as has been a common theme of recent World Cup campaigns, there was a sense of what if. Chiefly this revolved around late chances to remove Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme, the burly all-rounder who crashed 60 from 47 balls, before their 91-run stand settled it.
Both came in the 38th over and with the game still in the balance. Imran Tahir had bowled a fine spell of none for 33 but in the final set of six had De Grandhomme dropped on 22 by David Miller at mid-wicket – it would have been a screamer, admittedly – and then a reprieve for Williamson that proved gut-wrenching.
The right-hander tried to dab a fizzing leg-break fine but failed. Tahir was convinced of a nick but Quinton de Kock, behind the stumps, and the umpire Nigel Llong were oblivious to any contact. Had the captain, Faf du Plessis, reviewed, Williamson would have departed for 76 with the faintest of edges detected.
“No, we weren’t aware of it,” said Du Plessis at the end. “I think I was at long-on at the time and Quinny is the closest to the action. He’s always my go-to man. Even Kane said he didn’t know he had got a fine touch it. But that’s not the difference.”
Williamson certainly was, however, with the run chase that followed South Africa’s 241 for six from a reduced 49 overs an exhibition in restraint and a captain’s knock in stark contrast to Eoin Morgan’s six-hitting spree for England 24 hours earlier.
Chris Morris had bowled with heart for three wickets, reducing New Zealand to 80 for four in the 19th over and 137 for five in the 33rd, meaning there were still 105 runs to get with 100 balls remaining.
While Williamson held firm at one end – he struck nine fours and one six but chiefly absorbed the pressure – De Grandhomme transcended conditions at the other, heaving some meaty blows into the Hollies Stand at the ground where he has previously turned out for Warwickshire.
His bowling, after a 90-minute delay at the start, was more than useful too, with figures of one for 33 from 10 overs part of a fine stifling effort by New Zealand as South Africa’s batsmen, so low on confidence, tried their best to post a decent total.
It was the pace of Lockie Ferguson that shone brightest and continued a fine World Cup, castling Du Plessis with a searing 92mph yorker for 23 and then seeing both David Miller (36) and Andile Phehlukwayo (0) caught trying to force shots late on.
Trent Boult detonating De Kock’s leg-stump had made for an inauspicious start by South Africa but Hashim Amla’s 55 from 83 balls – one which made him the second fastest man after Virat Kohli to 8,000 ODI runs – steadied the ship.
Amla was undone by the delicate left-arm of Mitchell Santner – a ball that dipped, spun and clipped the off-stump – and it was only Rassie van der Dussen, top-scorer with 67 not out, who offered any impetus with some late boundaries.
New Zealand’s chase overcame the early loss of Colin Munro – caught and bowled by Kagiso Rabada via an inside edge on to pad – as Williamson and Martin Guptill put on 60 runs in 12.4 overs for the second wicket.
Guptill, like all but De Grandhomme, was unable truly to free his arms but did pierce the in-field for five fours. His dismissal was more memorable than the innings itself, the right-hander swivelling 360 degrees when trying to pull Phehlukwayo, only to slip and kick the leg-stump with his back foot.
Further fortune was to be found when Ross Taylor clipped an innocuous ball from Morris to De Kock down the leg side.
The bowler looked slightly embarrassed but there was little doubt about the follow-up, a ball that jagged off the surface and snicked the edge of Tom Latham’s bat for a more classical caught behind.
Morris returned in the 33rd over to have Jimmy Neesham caught at slip on 23. But with the new man, De Grandhomme, in no mood to muck about and Williamson ice-cool, New Zealand found their way home.
Source link : https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jun/19/new-zealand-south-africa-cricket-world-cup-match-report
Publish date : 2019-06-19 20:12:00