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February 7, 2002
New Zealand was once again lamenting a 10-over lapse against South Africa after their opening one-day cricket final last night at the MCG.
South Africa will go to Sydney today with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three finals series after easily disposing of the Kiwis by eight wickets, scoring 2-191 off 45.1 overs after dismissing them for 190 off 47.5.
New Zealand made a shocking start at 2-18, but top-scorer Craig McMillan (73) and captain Stephen Fleming (50) built the run rate to around four an over as the side aimed for a total of 230-240.
The Proteas squeezed the momentum out of New Zealand's batting with some outstanding bowling and fielding in the late stages of the innings.
Lance Klusener returned to form with two timely wickets midway through the innings and then opening bowler Makhaya Ntini snared 5-31 to warrant the man of the match award.
But Fleming insisted his side could turn around its fortunes ahead of Friday's second final in Sydney, despite having won only one of the last 17 one-dayers against South Africa.
"Once again it's a 10-15 over spell which set us back and it's hindered all the way through this tournament against South Africa," he said.
"It's either been the 10 overs we've bowled or, today, the last 15 overs we batted.
"If we can just round off an innings we'll create some pressure and they'll make some mistakes."
Adding to New Zealand's problems was the plight of opening bowler Dion Nash, who came off the ground last night after only one over with an abdominal strain.
Fleming said it was too early to tell whether Nash would be available for Sydney.
Neither side has won the international one-day tournament in this country and South African captain Shaun Pollock was careful not to claim the title yet.
Although Sydney's weather has been shocking lately, Pollock did not think last night's result would decide the series, with no rescheduling of games if Friday and Sunday are washed out.
"I don't think the rain will continue for four days, so there's no doubt were going to get a second game in," he said.
"We're not looking for the easy way out."
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches
Bide your time, put your body behind each delivery, and play with the batsman's mind