New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd T20, Auckland February 22, 2012

South Africa pull off heist to win series


South Africa 165 for 7 (Duminy 38, Nicol 2-20) beat New Zealand 162 for 7 (Ryder 52, Botha 2-20) by three runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

South Africa performed the ultimate anti-choke as 21-year-old tearaway Marchant de Lange defended six runs off the last over to clinch the Twenty20 series 2-1. After keeping South Africa to a below-par score on a small ground with short boundaries, New Zealand were on track to cruise to victory and needed less than a-run-a-ball by the 15th over. However, tight bowling from Johan Botha and Morne Morkel dragged New Zealand back, before de Lange's last-over heroics gave South Africa an unlikely win.

Jesse Ryder, who made his return after a calf injury, scored a typically meaty half-century to take New Zealand to the brink. He slowed down as he approached his fifty and looked to bring it up - and the win closer - with an adventurous shot against Johan Botha. With New Zealand requiring eight, he walked across his stumps to scoop over fine leg but was caught by Morne Morkel on the edge of the circle. That meant the 19th over had cost just three runs and left New Zealand with a new batsman at the crease with seven needed of the last over.

De Lange, playing in just the third twenty-over match of his career, was brought on. His first ball was full. James Franklin drilled the ball to long-off and raced through. Nathan McCullum faced the next ball. It was short and wide but he let it through, expecting it to be called wide - it wasn't. Then, he panicked. Nathan tried to pull the third ball but only succeeded in gloving it high, to give AB de Villiers a catch.

As de Lange's confidence grew, New Zealand's shrank and he banged in a bouncer to new batsman Doug Bracewell, who swung hard but missed. The next ball was full and Bracewell slogged but found Hashim Amla, diving forward at point. So New Zealand needed six runs off the last ball and there would be one more twist. De Lange overstepped and Franklin scurried through. The equation changed and four were required of the final delivery but Tim Southee's swing found only fresh air as de Lange held his nerve to bowl full outside off. And so he had inflicted an unlikely defeat on an opposition, the type of which has so often been experienced by South Africa.

De Lange's performance turned around a largely uninspired performance from the rest of the seamers, who veered too often on the leg-side line. It was up to Botha, who was his usual wily, miserly self, to apply the brakes after New Zealand's openers were off to a speedy start - Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill shared a stand of 65 in six overs. Nicol regularly took the ball from outside off and planted on the leg side but, eventually, he did that one too many times and was caught in the deep.

With Guptill also falling for a misjudged aerial shot, the stage was set for Ryder to take New Zealand home. He started with a streaky boundary off a thick outside edge that flew through the vacant second slip area but then he pulled, charged down the track to loft and slapped through the offside with his usual power. His display of disdain put pressure on South Africa, who made careless errors in the field, dropped him once and sent down 12 wides.

Despite the visitors lapses, New Zealand committed even more with bat in hand. Brendon McCullum swung at a short ball and was caught behind and Kane Williamson had no control over a shot he skied to mid-wicket. It left the middle-order with too much to do after a controlled performance from New Zealand in the field should have been enough to win them the match.

They struck three times in the first eight overs to remove Richard Levi, makeshift No.3 Albie Morkel and Amla. de Villiers and Duminy built a partnership in the old-fashioned way, taking two overs to establish themselves before Duminy struck a glorious, high-elbowed six into the stands.

The pair had found good rhythm when Duminy was run out by Nicol against the run of play, backing up too far at the non-striker's end. Nicol had created an opening and he prised it apart even further in the next over. He bowled de Villiers when the South Africa captain missed a slog-sweep and struck Justin Ontong on the thigh to have him out lbw. The wickets forced South Africa to slow down and allowed Bracewell and Southee to put together a string of ten dot balls that ended with the wicket of Johan Botha - a one-handed snatch out of the sky by Martin Guptill.

Wayne Parnell and Robin Peterson rallied to take 27 runs off the last three overs but South Africa still ended up with a total that would take a disciplined effort, or a few moments of magic, to defend. Between Botha and de Lange, they provided enough of that.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • P-C on February 23, 2012, 17:59 GMT

    Botha for both short formats of the game and option as 2nd spinner way above Paul Harris with his slow deliveries(can hardly call it spin). 20/20 is merely an advertisement for the game of cricket but the real deal will always be test match domination. That is and always will be the only format #1 ranking actually means something. So yes we won a 20/20 series; big deal; now lets start playing the big boy cricket.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    I think most SA fans would swap this 20/20 series win for a win in the Test arena. Any sports contest between SA and NZ is something to behold and this was no different. Personally, I do not like Ryder and Southee but this is not to say they are bad sportsmen. Both are talented sportsmen who will serve NZ well in the future if they change their attitudes a bit. I think both teams can be proud of what they achieved during the T20 series. It was nail biting stuff and a good advert for the game. The tests will be a close affair but I sincerely hope that pitches are prepared to give bowlers a fair chance especially on the Reserve Basin. So please groundsmen, prepare pitches to have something in it on the first day or so, then flatten out a bit with spin again on the last 4 sessions. That way test cricket will be kept alive and as interesting as the T20's and ODI's. It will also be in the interests of both sides.

  • Sharky on February 23, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    With Roelof Van Der Merwe doing well for Somerset in County Cricket and Nicky Boje still pulling stunning performances for Warriors in domestic cricket, and Robin Peterson with his special performances, one still feels that Johan Botha has cement his place in the Proteas 20/20 setup. Imran Tahir and Paul Harris (with his bounce and lack of bounce from height) seems to be better spinners than Botha, but Botha's never-say-die performance and professionally kept his cool, was worth gold yesterday.

  • Sharky on February 23, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    I must say that there is nothing wrong with this kiwi-unit and the same individuals can easily win the next game against the zaffers, but first they had to gain experience and learn again the old rule that you never loosen your grip on the zaffers. Steve Waugh knew that and came away a lot of times as the winner, for not loosing the grip against the zaffers in nail-biting fights. Michael Clarke also had to learn the hard way, 16 October 2011 in Johannesburg. The Auzzies had 5 overs left and needed only 3 wickets for a win. The unlikely tail-enders from the Proteas had to score 61 runs from 30 balls. Clarke (and most of us) thought the game was already in the bag. The zaffers won by 3 wickets with 5 balls to spare.

  • Paul on February 23, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    Quite right David Ryder, I agree with you wholeheartedly

  • Ronald on February 23, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    I Forgot to add well done AB ..He chose his new young fast bowler de Lange to bowl that last over and he performed ... like Australias new youngsters (Pattinson etc) have...Meantime New Zealand stays with the "oldies" arguing its experience that counts (well thats according to Dooolie ) Havn't we got any tall, fit,strong young fast bowlers ready to jump up a grade ...( if your not at least 6' 4" do not apply...)

  • Ronald on February 23, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    C'mon..What about Franklin..It was imperitave that he faced the bowling yet when Nathan McCullum scooped the ball in the air Franklin was not backing up nor did he make any attempt to cross McCullum so that he would be facing ...Thats schoolboy stuff..The incoming batsmen were left to face the bowling...I have watched Franklin for years now in the IPL etc and I do not think winning is in his head...He is just not a fighter ...HK

  • Anver on February 23, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    SA's unexpected win in fact was generously handed over by NZ..... a poor effort by the Kiwis specially in final 2 overs..... SA choked NZ !!!!!!

  • Roland on February 23, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    As South Africans we shouldnt get ahead of ourselves. Sure, we pulled off a stunning victory in the end but up until the last three overs it didnt look convincing. The Kiwi's (as vein as they are) are a better side than they've been in a looooong time. The upcoming ODI's & Tests wont be a walk in the park I dont think.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    Great to see SA cross the Finishing Line as Winners in a NailBitter :)

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