South Africa sneak home despite Vincent's efforts
South Africa 201 for 9 (Kallis 51, Boucher 40, Mills 4-44) beat New Zealand 182 (Vincent 90, Ntini 3-29) by 19 runs
While Vincent's innings held the New Zealand innings together, Jacques Kallis, who was on a drip an hour before play, produced the only other half-century of the match - a contrasting effort off 94 balls with just two boundaries - after South Africa were wobbling on 74 for 4. Although Kallis's innings was slow he had summed up the situation and realised the pitch was not the usual Newlands belter.
Defending a low score, early wickets were key for South Africa, and Makhaya Ntini tore in to remove Nathan Astle and Stephen Fleming during a hostile four-over spell. Astle carved to point where Hershelle Gibbs held a sharp chance (7 for 1), the Fleming slashed wildly and Graeme Smith swallowed the offering at first slip (16 for 2).
But Vincent was especially brutal and twice cleared the boundary with audacious pulls, while Scott Styris knocked Shaun Pollock off his metronomic length. Both batsmen then immediately laid into the next pairing of Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt. However, Nel is a wholehearted performer, and he continued to charge in, gaining reward when Styris got a top edge on an attempted pull and Justin Kemp hung onto a tumbling catch as he ran back from square leg (80 for 3).
Despite the loss of Styris, Vincent ploughed on and raced past his half-century with a thumping shot through mid-on off Langeveldt. After his opening two overs cost 21 Langeveldt was fortunate to get a third, but made it count in a big way for South Africa. He finally located the right line and length and Craig McMillan nibbled a ball through to Mark Boucher (93 for 4).
Jacob Oram never settled at the crease during his 37-ball stay, and when he edged Kemp South Africa sensed they had their opening (126 for 5). But in a match dominated by seam bowlers, Nicky Boje - South Africa's Supersub - then came to the fore by removing Brendan McCullum and Daniel Vettori in quick succession. However, New Zealand could feel aggrieved by both decisions. McCullum's stumping included enough doubt to favour the batsman, while Vettori's bat hit his pad - and not the ball - when Smith held the chance at silly point.
What made it even more disappointed for New Zealand was that, after a slightly wayward start, they produced a superb allround effort with the slower bowlers being especially impressive with their nagging wicket-to-wicket style. Styris was the pick of attack and his double strike to remove Smith and Pollock put the brakes on South Africa's innings.
Shane Bond struck early removing Andrew Puttick for a fifth-ball duck on his international debut, following a last minute call-up from domestic cricket to replace the injured Boeta Dippenaar (3 for 1). Despite this early setback South Africa made steady progress through Smith and Gibbs but progress became harder when the bowlers took the pace of the ball.
Eventually Smith cracked, heaving across the line in Styris's first over (69 for 2) and Pollock, who was surprisingly promoted to No. 4, attempted to break the stranglehold by using the long handle approach, but could only find long-on (71 for 3).
The slide continued when Mills trapped Gibbs lbw with an inswinger (74 for 4) before Vettori produced his regulation tight spell and also managed to break the fifth-wicket stand between Kallis and Ashwell Prince just as South Africa were building another platform. Prince moved too far across his crease and Vettori clipped the leg stump (120 for 5).
Boucher provided the innings with some much needed impetus and Kallis reached fifty from 92 balls before both players fell to Mills, attempting to clear the stands in the closing overs. When South Africa only just managed to squeak past 200 New Zealand would have felt satisfied with their efforts. But by the time they had suffered a similar fate at the hands of the home attack the Kiwis knew they had seen victory slip from their grasp for the second match running.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo