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 yesterday evening. Needing 130 to win, South Africa made 131 for seven, with a ball to spare — just minutes before rain started falling.
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 strong crowd roared their approval when veteran Shaun Pollock opened the bowling. 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 — 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 team-mates, 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. De Villiers got a single off the first ball and the crowd groaned in agony when Vernon Philander was run out by some smart work by Ross Taylor and Lou Vincent off the next. De Villiers got a single off the third ball, and then Johan Botha skied the ball. Four New Zealanders — Styris, McCullum, Mills and Gareth Hopkins converged on it, but it dropped harmlessly amongst 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 tomorrow, in the first of three one-day internationals. The second will be played at St George’s Park in Port Eli
zabeth on Friday and the final match will be played at Newlands in Cape Town on December 2.
New Zealand innings
L Vincent lbw Botha 15
B McCullum c Duminy b Pollock 9
J How c Duminy b Pollock 14
R Taylor c Kallis b Morkel 7
S Styris c Smith b Steyn 30
G Hopkins c De Villiers b Morkel 6
D Vettori c Morkel b Pollock 2
K Mills not out 33
M Gillespie not out 4
Extras (3lb, 6w) 9
Total (for 7 wkts, 20 overs) 129
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (McCullum 2.2), 2-34 (How 4.6), 3-45 (Taylor 6.4), 4-66 (Vincent 9.6), 5-18 (Hopkins 12.3), 6- 84 (Vettori 14.3), 7-98 (Styris 16.2)
Bowling: Pollock 4-0-28-3, Steyn 4-0-17-1, Langeveldt 4-0-33-0, Morkel 4-0-29-2, Botha 4-0-19-1
South Africa innings
G Smith c McMillan b Mills 7
J Kallis c Mills b Gillespie 4
J Duminy st McCullum b Vettori 33
A de Villiers not out 52
M Boucher lbw Patel 7
S Pollock c Taylor b Patel 6
A Morkel c Vettori b Styris 9
V Philander run out 2
J Botha not out 6
Extras (2lb, 1nb, 2w) 5
Total (for 7 wkts, 19.5 overs) 131
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-33, 3-64, 4-89, 5-103, 6-116
Bowling: Mills 4-0-34-1, Gillespie 4-0-22-1 (2w), Vettori 4-0-24-1, Mason 3-0-28-0 (1nb), Patel 4-0-17-2, Styris 1-0-4-1
Result: South Africa win by 3 wickets.