VB Series, match 11

New Zealand v South Africa

At Perth, February 1 (day/night). South Africa won by 67 runs. South Africa 5 pts. Toss: New Zealand.

The side effects of the bonus-point system grossly distorted this match. A win would have guaranteed New Zealand entry to the final, but - extraordinarily - the second-best result for them was a defeat heavy enough to give South Africa a fifth point. What they wanted to avoid was a narrow defeat: no bonus point for South Africa would mean Australia needed only four points (a narrow win) in their last match to squeeze New Zealand out of the final, rather than five (a win plus a bonus point). Fleming followed the logical course unwaveringly: chasing 271, New Zealand went for the runs during the first 25 overs but took their foot off the throttle once they were reduced to 129 for five. A score of 216 or under would gift South Africa the bonus point, so the remaining batsmen blocked out the last 21 overs, adding just 73. The poring over calculators overshadowed a glorious South African recovery. From 35 for four, Rhodes and Boucher ran the New Zealanders to distraction, and once Pollock arrived the fielders watched helplessly as the ball soared overhead. He clobbered 40 off the last two overs, including four consecutive sixes off James Franklin - three lofted drives and a pull - and finished with 69 from 34 balls. Rhodes took the match award; Pollock simply took the breath away.

Man of the Match: J. N. Rhodes.

© John Wisden & Co