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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Kirsten century ensures South Africa victory over Kiwis

Gary Kirsten fashioned his 10th one-day century and shared in a record partnership for the second wicket as South African tracked down a 288 victory target to beat New Zealand by five wickets in the Standard Bank series at the De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley.

Kirsten made 101 and added 172 in 199 balls with Jacques Kallis as South Africa took an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the six-match series with two games remaining. The first game in the series in Potchefstroom was washed out.

Kirsten and Kallis, who made 93, both lost their wickets before the end but Nicky Boje (20 not out) and Mark Boucher (18 not out) saw South Africa home with seven balls to spare.

Kirsten and Kallis came together at the fall of the first wicket when Daryll Cullinan was dismissed in the seventh over of the innings and stayed together for nearly 33 overs as they took the match away from New Zealand. They carried South Africa through to 139 for one at the halfway stage and then went on and on as the Kiwi bowlers wilted under a cloudless sky and on a perfect batting pitch.

The previous record for the second wicket was set on Wednesday last week on the third match of the series when Kirsten and Nicky Boje put on 160, and Kirsten and Kallis swept past it with something to spare.

For the most part Kirsten always had his nose slightly ahead of Kallis, who played gloriously from the moment he arrived at the crease. His driving combined timing, grace and placement and he twice opened his shoulders to lift the ball over the boundary ropes.

But Kirsten was equally effective, barely allowing a ball to go past without scoring. Indeed, his strike rate was always a little ahead of his partner's, and although he was briefly stuck on 99, he reached three figures when he edged Scott Styris on to his pads and scampered through for the single.

He reached the mark off 104 deliveries and Kallis also looked set for a hundred before he carved Styris high towards the cover boundary to be caught by Brooke Walker for 93.

Ten balls later Kirsten's innings came to an end when he was caught at the wicket off Chris Cairns for 101 and at 221 for three, New Zealand had suddenly shifted the balance of the game slightly back towards themselves.

They had further encouragement when Lance Klusener chipped Styris to Stephen Fleming at short midwicket after making 9 off nine balls. The fourth South African wicket had fallen at 247 and the home side still needed to make 41 off five-and-a-half overs to win as Boje came out to join Jonty Rhodes.

Rhodes made a brisk 25 off 23 balls, but then he tried to hit across the line against Chris Harris and was bowled at 255 for five. With four overs remaining South Africa still needed 32 to win.

Boje and Boucher took six off the 47th over, leaving 26 still needed from 18 balls. With Boucher heaving Harris over midwicket for four, 10 came off the 48th over, leaving 16 to win off 12 balls.

Cairns was entrusted with the 49th over, but Boucher crashed the first ball high over long on for six. A single came off the third ball and Boje hit the fourth back over the bowler's head for another six and then followed the shot with a four through long off to win the match.

Earlier, Roger Twose struck 89 and Stephen Fleming made 85 as New Zealand dragged the initiative away from South Africa, even after Shaun Pollock had won his first toss of the series and sent the tourists in to bat.

After Chris Nevin's sprightly 68 off 69 balls had lifted New Zealand to 116 for two at the halfway stage of their innings, Fleming and Twose built on the foundation for the best New Zealand stand of the tour.

Fleming played the anchor role, allowing Twose as much of the strike as possible, but the New Zealand captain also played his part. He has hit the ball well in South Africa, but been unable to build a score. On Saturday, however, he pushed on for the first time, moving to his 50 off 70 balls as the score steadily mounted.

Twose, meanwhile, also claimed his first 50 of the series when he drove Roger Telemachus sweetly through the covers for four to raise the New Zealand 200 in the3 40th over. Twose reached his landmark off 60 deliveries with five fours and a six off Telemachus.

He had been lucky to escape being run out before he had scored when Jonty Rhode's threw down the wicket at the bowler's end with Twose apparently short of his ground. One of the cameras that would have shown this conclusively was out of action, though, as the result of a temporary power failure in the outside broadcast van. It was a power failure that was to cost South Africa dearly.

New Zealand were poised for a push in the last 10 overs of the innings, but Fleming's stay finally came to an end when he tried to take a second run off Lance Klusener and Boeta Dippenaar's immaculate pickup and throw beat him home to the striker's end.

He eventually made 85 off 103 balls and the third wicket had fallen at 223 for three. The partnership was worth 110 off 118 balls to New Zealand.

The stage was now set for Chris Cairns to use the long handle in the eight remaining overs of the innings. He had a reprieve when Telemachus dropped a sharp return catch when he was on 5 and then made Telemachus pay for the mistake by hammering him out of the ground later in the over.

For once South Africa were unable to call on Allan Donald in the closing overs. He had been hit for 26 in his first three overs and a further 20 came off two more overs when he was asked to bowl a second spell. Pollock instead used himself and Jacques Kallis who accounted for Cairns after the all-rounder had cracked 21 off 16 balls.

He tried to hit Kallis over extra cover, but Pollock took a fine, leaping catch to take the fourth New Zealand wicket at 272.

Craig McMillan made just one before he tried to sweep a Pollock slower ball and was caught by Gary Kirsten at short third man.

And Twose's sterling effort came to an end with one ball of the innings remaining when he holed out to Pollock at long on off Kallis. Chris Harris was not out on 11 and Adam Parore did not face a delivery.

Teams

South Africa: Shaun Pollock (capt), Gary Kirsten, Boeta Dippenaar, Jacques Kallis, Daryll Cullinan, Jonty Rhodes, Mark Boucher, Lance Klusener, Nicky Boje, Roger Telemachus, Allan Donald.

New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (capt), Nathan Astle, Chris Nevin, Roger Twose, Chris Cairns, Craig McMillan, Chris Harris, Adam Parore, Scott Styris, Brooke Walker, Shayne O'Connor.

Umpires: Rudi Koertzen and Brian Jerling. Third umpire: Wilf Diedericks. Match referee: Tali Ali.