December 5, 2000

South Africa clinch series against Kiwis

Port Elizabeth (South Africa), Dec 4: South Africa clinched the series against New Zealand on Monday with a seven-wicket win on the fifth day of the second Test at St George's Park.

Opening batsman Gary Kirsten shepherded South Africa to their second win of the three-match series, making 47 not out after South Africa had been set a small target of 86.

As in the first Test, which South Africa won by five wickets, the New Zealand bowlers and fielders showed spirit in defending a small target.

After dismissing Boeta Dippenaar on Sunday, they claimed the wickets of Jacques Kallis (26) and Daryll Cullinan (11) before conceding defeat.

Kallis struck five boundaries and was looking in good form until he top-edged a hook against Martin and was caught at deep backward square-leg.

Cullinan drove at an inswinger from Walmsley and was bowled between bat and pad.

The third Test starts in Johannesburg on Friday.

South African fast bowler Allan Donald is a doubtful starter for the final Test because of a stomach muscle injury. Mfuneko Ngam, 21, from Eastern Province, is on standby and is likely to win a first cap.

South African physiotherapist Craig Smith said Donald would not play if there were any signs of the injury on the day before the game.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming blamed "a disastrous session" on the fourth day for his side's defeat.

New Zealand, 63 behind on first innings, never recovered after losing four wickets in six overs.

"It turned horribly wrong after lunch on Sunday," said Fleming. "It was a disastrous session that cost us the match. It was poor batsmanship and poor option taking.

"Any plans we had of extending the game were thrown out of the window. If we had put another 150 on the board it would have been a bloody good game. We missed the boat."

Fleming also pinned part of the blame for the series defeat on New Zealand's lengthy injury list which has claimed all-rounder Chris Cairns, left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori and fast bowler Dion Nash.

"With Cairns, Vettori and Nash you can have sessions like that and still win matches," Fleming said.

But he said he was pleased with the progress made by young bowlers like Chris Martin, Brooke Walker and Kerry Walmsley, who had come in for injured bowlers.

South Africa captain Shaun Pollock said there had been two turning points for his side.

"Obviously, one of them was to to be seven down (in the first innings) and 90 behind and to turn that round into a 60-run lead.

"Then there was the way we bowled in the middle session yesterday. The pitch wasn't doing too much and to pick up four quick wickets turned the game on its head and set up the victory for us," said Pollock.

The South African captain, after his first Test series win since taking over from the sacked Hansie Cronje in April, paid tribute to a fighting performance in which South Africa had struggled in the first innings.

"It's great to have wrapped it up in the second Test. It was a big effort to bowl New Zealand out in the second innings," he said.

Pollock said the match had been evenly poised before a 136-run eighth wicket stand between Man-of-the-Match Neil McKenzie and Nicky Boje enabled South Africa to take a 63-run first innings lead.