Kemp leads SA to victory

In a match that seesawed throughout, South Africa finished winners by just two wickets with three balls to spare in this first one-day international at Bloemfontein. Scratchy performances by both teams ensured a tension-filled match.

Stephen Fleming elected to bat on a slow and dry looking pitch. Nathan Astle and Lou Vincent both fell caught behind to Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini respectively. At 18 for 2, Hamish Marshall joined his skipper and the two built a solid partnership. Pollock and Ntini were full and straight, and it was only until the formers’ fifth over, where three boundaries were hit, did the shackles final start to loosen for the tourists.

Fleming was his elegant best, striking nine boundaries in his innings. Marshall, averaging just 22.3 in his last 21 ODI’s, played some confident strokes. After the pair reached 52, Fleming drove aerially away from his body and was superbly caught by Herschelle Gibbs at point for 45. Andre Nel had his first wicket.

Craig McMillan set about rescuing the side, running intelligently with Marshall after an uncertain start. In a pattern that would plague both sides, just when the partnership began to develop it was cut short. Marshall was trapped in front by Jacques Kallis when on 16, a delivery that stayed low and held its line.

At 97 for 4, the Black Caps were uneasily placed. Jacob Oram, who was playing just as a batsman, was a good foil to the more aggressive McMillan. The Cantabrian hit eight fours and a straight six, reaching his 25th half-century off 57 balls. Oram then committed cricket suicide, foolishly running himself out on 35. The partnership had yielded 75 important runs.

McMillan fell in the 43rd over for 66 off 75 balls with the score at 200 for 6, becoming Kallis’ 200th one-day wicket in his 221st appearance. Brendon McCullum and Andre Adams, who made 28 and 30 not out respectively, ensured New Zealand reached a promising 249 for 8.

The openers made an excellent start, reaching 29 without loss after three overs. Shane Bond bowled erratically, but got one to nip back and trap Boeta Dippenaar LBW.

New Zealand then picked up their line and lengths, restricting the run flow. The wickets of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs were the benefactors for the visitors; South Africa was wobbling at 85 for 4.

Kemp accelerated with the loss of Gibbs’ wicket with the score 135 for 5. Astle dropped an awkward return catch when still in single figures, and Super Sub Jeetan Patel dropped a straightforward boundary catch off Pollock. Kemp then took 20 off an Astle over, the onslaught beginning.

Pollock went on to make 37 off 29 balls, Kemp smashing 73 off 64.

With eleven required off the final two overs, South Africa had surely sealed victory.

It did not go to script, with Patel removing both Kemp and Pollock in the same over, caught in the deep. The winning runs came courtesy of a skied shot by Nicky Boje, which Fleming failed to take running backwards.

New Zealand’s skipper Fleming reflected it was there for the taking.

“We should have sown it up but we were just not good enough. In the last 15 overs we just couldn’t get our hands on the chances that mattered,” he admitted.

“South Africa needed something special from numbers seven and eight and today they got away with it. Kemp played wonderfully well in tough conditions.”

His counterpart Graeme Smith was pleased at how his team played on the slow wicket.

“I thought the pitch had a lot to do with us struggling to get the target.

“It was not one of the best one-day wickets and it suited them and their game plans a lot. It was the sort of wicket you get in New Zealand and they’ll be very happy to find those sort of pitches over here.”

Jacques Kallis was the third South African to reach the 200-wicket landmark in one-day internationals, and the eighth player to register 2000 runs and 200 wickets.

New Zealand 249 for 8
Craig McMillan 66 (75), Stephen Fleming 45 (48)
Andre Nel 3-42, Jacques Kallis 2-45

South Africa 250 for 8 in 49.3 overs
Justin Kemp 73 (64), Shaun Pollock 37 (29)
Jeetan Patel 2-48, Shane Bond 2-50

South Africa won by two wickets, lead five match series 1-0.

Cricket Web Player of the Match: Justin Kemp (South Africa), 73 (64).

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Andrew Marmont