Kemp inspires South Africa to thrilling win
South Africa 250 for 8 (Kemp 73) beat New Zealand 249 for 8 (McMillan 66) by two wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A brilliant, aggressive knock of 73 from Justin Kemp turned a nightmare start for South Africa into a sweet two-wicket victory in the first one-day international at Bloemfontein on Sunday. New Zealand had been on top for much of South Africa's reply, as wickets toppled regularly - but Kemp was his usual demonstrative self, hitting five fours and three sixes in a superbly timed 64-ball innings.
South Africa's openers got off to a rollicking start, aided by Bond whose first ball of the innings was a wide. Three fours were struck in the first over, which cost 17, and two further boundaries by Boeta Dippenaar in the second. The hosts had reached 29 without loss, in under three overs, before Bond got one to nip back sharply to trap Dippenaar in the crease for 10.
New Zealand by now had restricted the run flow considerably, by bowling full and straight - much as Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini had done in New Zealand's innings. In the sixth over, Jacques Kallis - attempting a flourishing cover-drive - missed the ball completely, and was bowled through the gate by Kyle Mills' first delivery: a rarity for a batsman of such quality.
Kemp came to the crease with South Africa struggling on 85 for 4. It was during the 36th over in which he found his destructive rhythm, smashing Jeetan Patel, New Zealand's Supersub, for a mammoth six over long on. He followed this up in the next over by striking Nathan Astle for two fours and two sixes - but even this late, violent flurry left South Africa needing 68 from the final 10 overs.
Shane Bond still had two overs left in his allocation, but Fleming chose Patel to bowl the 46th over - and he conceded just seven runs by bowling straight, full and fast, restricting Kemp and Pollock who could only pick up singles. Bond did return to the attack, with South Africa needing 24 from the final three overs: Pollock swung, ungainly, and the wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum could only watch the ball sail past him. Pollock was to be dismissed a few balls later, quickly followed by Justin Kemp - but the damage had been done, mainly by Kemp. Despite a valiant diving effort from Stephen Fleming to catch Nicky Boje's heave-ho, South Africa snuck home by two wickets with three balls to spare.
New Zealand's innings had revolved around Craig McMillan's solid 66, and Fleming's elegant 45. Fleming had lost both Astle and Lou Vincent cheaply, but looked in terrific touch before he too fell to a stunning catch at point by Gibbs. Flinging himself to his left, Gibbs pulled off what most other fielders would regard as a one-off; for him, though, it was but a formality.
At 70 for 3 McMillan started his rescue act, hitting eight fours and a six in his half-century. He received excellent support from Jacob Oram, with whom he put on 75 for the fifth wicket, before Oram suicidally ran himself out. A lofted six by McMillan off Kallis increased the momentum of his innings significantly, and he was quick to dispatch anything short: his fifty, from 57 balls, came via a deft cut for four to third man.
Kallis, with an excellent slower ball, foxed McMillan (66) whose attempt to nudge the ball to the leg-side provided Ashwell Prince with the simplest of chances at midwicket, and Kallis's 200th ODI wicket. Daniel Vettori, who could only last three balls, made way for Adams who lofted a big six over long-on. In the next over, McCullum drove Nel over extra cover for his second six - an extraordinary, almost effortless shot which he attempted to repeat later in the over, to his peril. Nel bowled admirably, fully deserving the flattering figures of 3 for 42.
A flurry of runs from the tail enabled New Zealand to creep up to a very respectable score of 249 for 8, which represented a significant recovery from the shaky position they earlier found themselves in. But, despite the quick runs from their lower-order, it wasn't enough to stop the damaging blade of Kemp, whose innings deservedly earned him the Man-of-the-Match award. The two sides meet again on Friday at Cape Town - and both will be looking to improve upon scratchy performances today.
Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo