Gibbs and Kemp carry South Africa to series win
Justin Kemp blasted South Africa across the line at Port Elizabeth and carried them to an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series. Herschelle Gibbs laid the foundations for the run chase with a stylish 81, but a committed performance in the field by New Zealand took the game down to the final over. South Africa needed nine and it took Kemp just two balls as he dispatched Shane Bond for six and four to seal the win.
When Kemp was joined by Shaun Pollock South Africa needed 42 off 30 balls and New Zealand sensed a chance to keep the series alive. Mark Boucher was brilliantly run out by a diving Lou Vincent at cover and the pressure was starting to mount. However, Kemp is becoming the next Lance Klusener and believes he can achieve any target with his powerful strokeplay. On this occasion St George's Park wasn't big enough for him and New Zealand were left to ponder how they are going to beat this South Africa side after wasting three gilt-edged chances.
Their total of 244 represented a decent recovery after the top order slumped against the new ball on a juicy wicket. Scott Styris held them together with a well-paced 78 before Andre Adams gave the innings a grandstand finish by clubbing 24. But South Africa knew that, with a short boundary and quick outfield, a good start would put them in the driving seat.
Their rapid opening stands have become customary in this series - but so has their inability to build on them. This time Graeme Smith had a new partner - the recalled AB de Villiers - but the pattern was the same.
The innings stalled as Jacques Rudolph, also on his return to the side, struggled against tight medium-pace bowling. At least Gibbs was finding his touch, locating the cover boundary with sweetly timed drives. Gibbs' form has been building throughout the series and today he was near the top of his game. He took an aggressive approach against Daniel Vettori - Stephen Fleming's trump card - taking 15 off one over to put New Zealand on the back foot.
He formed a series of useful - but not match-sealing stands - with Rudolph, Boucher and Ashwell Prince, but when he spooned a slower ball to point, where Hamish Marshall held a stunning catch, the result wasn't a certainty. Pollock struck two crucial boundaries before Kemp added his finishing touches as South Africa's superb run in ODI matches continued.
Styris's 78 gave them the chance to post a defendable target as he formed a series of rebuilding partnerships in the middle order. He and Fleming added 59 but, just as the score was ticking along, Fleming's day went from bad to worse. After reaching a composed half-century from 80 balls he was run out in freakish circumstances. A fierce straight drive by Styris ricocheted off Kemp's ankle and smashed into the stumps.
Craig McMillan and Styris scampered between the wickets and managed to locate the fence with the occasional boundary. But another run out at a vital time, via a brilliant piece of fielding for Pollock, caught McMillan short. The ball dropped at McMillan's feet and Pollock collected in his follow-through, turned and hit the stumps at the bowler's end with the batsman a couple of inches short. However, McMillan could have made Pollock's task harder by running the line of the stumps.
While the bowling of Pollock and Ntini was impressive the back-up was less on the mark. Charl Langeveldt had an especially poor day and, although he ended Styris's innings during the closing overs, Adams clubbed his last over for 15. But it still wasn't enough for New Zealand, as this well-drilled South African outfit again showed their ability to win the tight matches.
Nathan Astle c Kemp b Ntini 11 (18 for 1)
Played away from body, edged to second slip
Lou Vincent c Boucher b Ntini 11 (23 for 2)
Limited foot movement, thin edge attempting backfoot punch
Hamish Marshall c Smith b Nel 7 (49 for 3)
Back-foot slash, edged hard straight to first slip
Stephen Fleming run out (Kemp) 54 (108 for 4)
Out of his ground backing-up, straight drive from Styris
Craig McMillan run out (Pollock) 19 (155 for 5)
Brilliant shy from Pollock, at bowler's end, in his follow-through
Brendan McCullum b Ntini 19 (203 for 6)
Moved across stumps attempting to sweep
Scott Styris b Langeveldt 78 (206 for 7)
Heave to leg
Daniel Vettori c Gibbs b Nel 6 (224 for 8)
Carved to point
Andre Adams run out (de Villiers/Boucher) 25 (243 for 9)
Attempted second off final ball
Graeme Smith c McCullum b Adams 18 (40 for 1)
Loose drive, inside edge
AB de Villiers c McCullum b Mills 29 (48 for 2)
Lack of footwork, thick edge from attempted drive
Jacques Rudolph run out (H Marshall) 17 (101 for 3)
Direct hit from backward point
Ashwell Prince c Mills b Adams 21 (150 for 4)
Lofted drive to mid-off, excellent catch running back
Herschelle Gibbs c H Marshall b Bond 81 (187 for 5)
Spooned slower ball to point
Mark Boucher run out (Vincent) 24 (202 for 6)
Direct hit from cover following diving save
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo