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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Boje century is foundation for 115-run victory over New Zealand

Whatever anyone else thinks, Nicky Boje is claiming exclusive rights to the number three slot in the South African one-day day. In three innings against New Zealand inside five days, Boje has made 105 not out, 64 and 129, all his runs coming around or better than a run a ball.

At SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday, Boje set up South Africa's 115-run victory (revised target) - and a 2-0 lead in the series - by savaging the New Zealand bowling with such gusto that South Africa's 324 for four was their second highest one-day total.

He shared in a new South African record second wicket partnership of 160 with Gary Kirsten and afterwards gave a detailed explanation of just why he's in such spanking form.

"It was," he said, "an awesome wicket to bat on."

To have won this one, New Zealand would have needed to score 27 more than their best ever total against South Africa - and that was before a 90-minute stoppage for rain reduced the target to 304 off 43 overs.

It was an unlikely ambition, even though Stephen Fleming (35 off 26 balls) and Roger Twose (40 off 37 balls) had a go while Nathan Astle kept one end up with his 46. But with an asking rate of over seven to the over, New Zealand were bound to lose wickets and they did so more regularly than they could afford.

Roger Telemachus had an up and down night, taking a wicket with his first ball and then bowling Roger Twose and Chris Cairns with successive deliveries while taking a spanking in between, but it was almost impossible to keep Boje out of the action.

It was his catch at square leg to dismiss Chris Nevin that gave Telemachus his first wicket, his throw from the square leg boundary which ran out Craig McMillan and in his only over of the innings, he had Astle caught at deep midwicket.

But, of course, it was his contribution, together with Gary Kirsten's 94, that laid the foundations for victory.

"It was all set up up front by the batting," noted Shaun Pollock while Fleming was simply rueful. Conceding that New Zealand aren't taking enough wickets at the start of South Africa's innings, he pointed out: "We're only taking one - and that brings Nicky in."

South Africa used Daryll Cullinan as an opener on Wednesday in an inconclusive experiment. Cullinan made 22 off 28 balls, but it was hardly an innings he will remember with any great fondness, as he thrashed about in a position to which he is not accustomed.

More to the point, if Cullinan is to bat four in the Tests and Boeta Dippenaar is to open, why on earth swop them around for the one-dayers?

Still Kirsten was again in splendid form, looking certain to reach his 10th ODI century before giving it away a little tamely as he tried to run Cairns down to third man, Jacques Kallis made a hurricane 45, lashing out with far more aggression than is usual for him, the South African bowling was tight and the fielding sharp and slick.

In the end, New Zealand were outplayed, as they were in Benoni on Sunday, by the better team on the day. If they are to win this series now, the task is blindingly straightforward - they have to win the last three matches in the series in a row, starting in Kimberley on Saturday.