<
>

De Villiers, Phehlukwayo steer SA through jittery chase

play
McGlashan: 12th consecutive win for South Africa (1:34)

Andrew McGlashan reports from Hamilton where South Africa beat New Zealand by four wickets in the first ODI of the series (1:34)

34 overs a side South Africa 210 for 6 (de Kock 69, de Villiers 37*, Santner 1-33, Sodhi 1-36) beat New Zealand 207 for 7 (Williamson 59, Morris 4 for 62) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

South Africa equalled their best winning run in ODIs with a 12th victory on the bounce, but it was not achieved without plenty of jitters in Hamilton. There was no surprise to see AB de Villiers unbeaten at the end of a tight chase, but it was Andile Phehlukwayo who struck the crucial blows with sixes in the penultimate and last over - the latter bringing the requirement down to 3 off 4 balls - before de Villiers clubbed the winning boundary with one ball to spare.

South Africa started the penultimate over, bowled by Trent Boult, needed 22 and only one run came off the first two balls. But Phehlukwayo, showing great calmness as he had done alongside David Miller in the huge chase against Australia last year, picked up a slower ball to clear long-off and in the final over, with nine needed off five balls after a wide call against Tim Southee, he repeated the dose over long-on. As the ball sailed over the boundary, de Villiers gave a little punch of the air.

That New Zealand dug deep to push the game so close was a worthy effort because they had rarely been in control. Passing 200 seemed a tall order following Chris Morris' four top-order wickets and Kane Williamson's departure for 59, but Colin de Grandhomme and Tim Southee clubbed 51 off 23 balls for the eighth wicket.

Then in the chase, Quinton de Kock, who was reprieved by the DRS after an lbw decision on 18, and Hashim Amla added 88 for the first wicket and, although there was significant encouragement for the spinners - this was the same surface used for the Australia ODI earlier this month - they had everything well in hand. Even when Amla chipped a return catch to Williamson it seemed a mere irritant. However, that soon changed.

Faf du Plessis was lbw sweeping at legspinner Ish Sodhi, who was recalled for this match - his first ODI since the tour of India last October. Then, in the next over, de Kock, who had eased to fifty off 47 balls, gave his innings away with a weak pull that found midwicket. All of a sudden, New Zealand sensed a chance.

It was Southee who seized the moment. He found JP Duminy's leading edge with a delightful slower ball, but out-did himself with the next delivery when he cleaned up Farhaan Behardien with a magnificent off-cutter which bit off the surface to beat the inside edge. Morris steadied things for a while alongside de Villiers before picking out long-off, and New Zealand were just about favourites, with South Africa needing 52 off 44 and their lower-order exposed.

On 2, Phehlukwayo offered a very tough, low chance to Tom Latham behind the stumps off Southee and it felt like de Villiers or bust. However, on the eve of the match, de Villiers had spoken about the belief in the South Africa side and, with him in the middle to offer a calming hand, this was a fine example of what he was talking about.

Steady morning rain topped up an already saturated outfield - 120mm has fallen in the area over the last few days, from the same storms that went through Auckland - but the ground coped well and a 34-over match was a better result than may have been the case. Both captains opted for a second specialist spinner, and their judgement of the pitch proved astute. De Villiers later said how conditions were as tough as he had faced anywhere and, with hindsight, he would have batted first.

Morris got to work early after South Africa unsurprisingly opted to field, benefiting from the DRS when Latham was given lbw as he played around a delivery swung into him late. Morris' late movement had been a feature in the T20 at Eden Park and he again found movement at encouraging pace.

While the second-wicket stand between Dean Brownlie and Williamson was forming, New Zealand appeared reasonably secure. Imran Tahir was dealt with effectively, especially by Williamson who slog-swept him for six, but Morris' return had an immediate impact.

With his first ball back, he removed Brownlie, who lazily pulled to deep square leg have worked hard to play himself in, and before the over was out, Ross Taylor had also departed when he drove too early, bunting a return catch to Morris who was alert in his follow through. Smart planning and execution brought the fourth wicket when Neil Broom was hustled for pace by a shorter delivery that he was in no position to pull, and could only splice a catch to square leg.

Not for the first time, Williamson looked a class above. He added a second six over midwicket, this time off left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi, before moving to his fifty from 48 balls. Consecutive boundaries off Shamsi soon followed and New Zealand's ambitions were lifting, only for Shamsi to strike back with a delivery which spun into Williamson a touch, cramping his cut shot and finding a bottom edge into the stumps.

Short balls from Kagiso Rabada accounted for Santner and Jimmy Neesham, and the innings was threatening to end with a whimper. However, Morris' day took a turn for the worse as de Grandhomme and Southee cut loose, with some luck and some judgement, to bolster the total significantly. It gave New Zealand something to bowl at. And it almost proved enough.