SA lays World Cup ghosts to rest

CityPress - - Sport - – Simnikiwe Xabanisa

The Proteas made good on their threat to avenge their heart­break­ing 2015 Cricket World Cup semi­fi­nal de­feat to New Zealand at Eden Park by win­ning when it mat­tered to clinch the five-game one-day in­ter­na­tional (ODI) se­ries be­tween 3-2 yes­ter­day.

While a World Cup fi­nal was not at stake this time around, South Africa ban­ished the night­mare that the Auck­land ground had come to rep­re­sent for them af­ter they lost yet another cru­cial knock­out game at a World Cup due to se­lec­to­rial in­ter­fer­ence from out­side the team.

The Proteas – thanks to their six-wicket win with 17.4 overs re­main­ing af­ter an ag­gres­sive bowl­ing and field­ing ef­fort – re­main on top of the ODI rank­ings pile, ahead of their three-match Eng­land se­ries and the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy com­pe­ti­tion.

The win – New Zealand’s first se­ries de­feat at home in nine games – was rooted in a ruth­less bowl­ing per­for­mance, led by man of the match Kag­iso Rabada, and al­lied to some in­cred­i­ble field­ing by Rus­sell Domingo’s men.

The bats­men then had to quell some­thing of a re­bel­lion by the Black Caps bowlers on a lively wicket – an ef­fort held to­gether by Faf du Plessis, who was un­beaten on 51 at the end.

Rabada, who ended up with fig­ures of 3/25, had started the rot by set­ting up Hamilton hero Martin Gup­till with the old bouncer and yorker rou­tine, get­ting him out for 176 runs, less than the 180 he scored in help­ing New Zealand level the se­ries.

He was ably sup­ported by Im­ran Tahir, whose 2/14 off 10 overs were the best fig­ures from a South African spin­ner, and Andile Phehluk­wayo, who marked his re­turn from a mild groin strain with the use­ful num­bers of 2/35.

The field­ing was as lively as the pitch and the bowl­ing – the Black Caps, in­clud­ing cap­tain Kane Wil­liamson (by AB de Vil­liers) and Mitchell Sant­ner (by JP Du­miny), were thwarted via run outs.

When it was their turn to bat, open­ers Hashim Amla and Quin­ton de Kock went cheaply, but Du Plessis dug deep on a wicket on which Tim Southee of­ten looked unplayable and he was the an­chor that saw the vis­i­tors home.

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