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Watch Highlights: Williamson breaks South African hearts in World Cup thriller

Sport Writer

Kane Williamson broke South African hearts with a nerveless unbeaten century to take New Zealand to a tense four-wicket victory with three balls to spare in a dramatic Cricket World Cup clash at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

The Proteas’ chances of reaching the playoffs now look close to extinguished after four defeats.

With New Zealand needing 12 runs to win off the last seven balls, it was Williamson who took control, angling a boundary past short third man and then belting Andile Phehlukwayo’s second ball of the final over for six over mid-wicket.

It was New Zealand’s fifth consecutive World Cup triumph over their opponents.

Having set the Kiwis 242 for victory on a slow, sticky pitch that made free scoring difficult, an error-prone South Africa will rue some missed opportunities as their opponents finally hunted down their target in a heart-stopping encounter that could so easily have gone either way.

The Proteas will recall, with some pain, that they actually “dismissed” Williamson off Imran Tahir’s final delivery in the 39th over when he got an edge to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock when on 76 and New Zealand on 173 for five. No appeal was forthcoming, however.

In the same over, David Miller, fielding at short mid-wicket, was a centimetre away from catching Williamson and then got a right hand to a chip from the other Kiwi hero, Colin de Grandhomme, as he flew through the air to his left.

The Proteas gave themselves a great chance of victory when they grabbed three wickets for eight runs after Williamson and opener Martin Guptill had featured in a 60-run partnership for the second wicket.

Andile Phehlukwayo, who conceded 73 runs in his 8.3 overs, nevertheless began the mini-collapse when Guptill, having struck five fours in his 35, trod on his wicket after mistiming a pull off the medium-pacer.


Sensing an opening, Chris Morris then took two cheap wickets, “strangling” Ross Taylor down the legside for one and then finding the edge of Tom Latham’s bat with a beauty that sliced across the lefthander.

Jimmy Neesham helped the calm Williamson to add 57 for the fifth wicket, but when he was caught by Amla at slip – again off Morris – New Zealand were rocking on 137 for five.

The key partnership of 91 for the sixth wicket then took place between Williamson and De Grandhomme who struck a brave, aggressive 60 in 47 balls.

The Proteas had opportunities to strike, but neglected to take them and in the end it was the masterful Williamson, who struck nine fours and that final-over six in his 138-ball innings, who shaded the match in the Kiwis’ favour.

For South Africa, Morris bowled well, finishing with 3-49, while legspinner Imran Tahir was economical though he failed to take a wicket, conceding just 33 runs in his 10 overs.

“It’s nice to be there at the end,” said man-of-the-match Williamson, who finished on 106 not out. “We knew at half time it was a tough surface.

“I thought the first half was a really good effort from us but we knew at the halfway stage it was far from done. We lost a few unfortunate wickets mixed in with some really nice bowling from South Africa.”


Earlier, a disciplined New Zealand attack as well as some tigerish outfielding restricted the Proteas to 241 for six in their innings in a match that was restricted to 49 overs for each team after the game started at midday because of a wet outfield.

Indeed, the Proteas could thank the ever-reliable Rassie van der Dussen, who struck an unbeaten 67 in 64 balls, for even reaching that modest target.

In many ways it was old-fashioned ODI batting as South Africa struggled to score. Given the conditions, it was not surprising that Williamson, having won the delayed toss, put the Proteas in to bat.

The Kiwis began well when left-arm paceman Trent Boult speared a delivery through Quinton de Kock’s defence in the second over, ripping out his leg stump.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis restored the innings with a solid second-wicket partnership of 50, but they were unable to build much momentum against an attack that gave little away.

Du Plessis had reached 23 when he was undone by a brilliant piece of bowling by paceman Lockie Ferguson who followed up a fierce bouncer with a lightning yorker that knocked back the South African captain’s off-stump.

Aiden Markram joined Amla but there was no real acceleration as the battle of attrition continued. This was largely the achievement of medium-pacer De Grandhomme and left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner who strangled the batsmen in the middle overs with some extremely tight bowling.

The outstanding De Grandhomme eventually finished with the wicket of a frustrated Markram (38) – caught in the deep after spooning a drive – at a cost of only 33 runs in his 10 overs.


“I think Kane showed exactly what to do,” said Du Plessis.

“He found it tricky to score but he waited for one guy, or a period, where he attacked. We had a lot of stop-start and that takes the extra 20 runs off the score.”

Amla struck some fluent drives but was unable to score freely, reaching his half-century in 75 balls – the third slowest of his ODI career – before he was defeated by a superb delivery from Santner that pitched on his middle stump before clipping his off bail.

The innings was given a necessary late flourish with a partnership of 72 between Van der Dussen, South Africa’s most consistent batsman in this World Cup, and David Miller who added 72 for the fifth wicket in 12 overs.

Van der Dussen struck the first six of the innings in the 43rd over while Miller contributed two of his own before perishing on the third-man boundary after trying to upper-cut Ferguson.

Van der Dussen, who struck the last two balls of the innings for six and four, finally finished with an impressive undefeated 67 in 64 balls that included two fours and three sixes.

The Kiwis’ main wicket-taker was the energetic Ferguson who maintained his fierce pace throughout to finish with 3-59.

His pace partner Matt Henry epitomised the disciplined Kiwi attack by conceding only 34 runs in his 10 overs.

Although New Zealand dropped two catches in the outfield, neither miss proved expensive and the general quality of their ground-fielding was excellent.


NEW ZEALAND: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult

SOUTH AFRICA: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir

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