In their last game, against Sri Lanka, Stephen Fleming had made the mistake of batting first after winning the toss, and had seen his top order slump against some excellent bowling by Chaminda Vaas. Suitably chastened by that experience, Fleming this time put South Africa in to bat, and reaped the rewards as Shane Bond and James Franklin struck blows from which the South Africans never recovered.
In the end, it was a credit to the South Africans that they stretched the game to the 49th over despite being distinctly unlucky with the toss. The match was decided in the first 20 overs of their innings, when they lost a couple of wickets with only three runs on the board - the first time they were two down for less than ten in 38 World Cup matches - and crawled to 52 for 3 in 20.
Just how difficult the conditions were for batting can be gauged from the fact that the not-in-control factor - the number of times the batsmen were beaten, rapped on the pads, or edged it - was 23% during those opening 20 overs. Even Kallis struggled, despite his watertight technique - his not-in-control factor was 24%, and he played-and-missed, or edged the ball 13 times out of the 41 deliveries he faced during this period. Among the New Zealand bowlers, Bond was again the most threatening - the in-control factor against him was only 68%. With survival itself being such a difficult proposition, it's hardly surprising that South Africa played out 92 dot balls out of 121 - effectively more than 15 maiden overs out of the first 20. South Africa's strongest statements of intent were the two sixes that Kallis and Gibbs struck off Jacob Oram - apart from that they managed only two fours in the entire Powerplay period.
New Zealand have won seven of their eight games in this tournament, but they have also been extremely lucky with the toss - the only ones they've lost have been against Kenya and Canada.
While South Africa had reason to believe they got the worse of the conditions, they did themselves no favours, dropping three crucial chances. Two of them were off Fleming, who has made it a habit of scoring runs against the South Africans in World Cup games - he averages 86.33 in four such matches. Fleming also improved his second-innings stats - he averages 40.15 when batting second, with all his eight hundreds coming when chasing a target.
The result means South Africa must beat England in their last match to make it to the semi-finals, and Graeme Smith will hope the bouncy Barbados pitch will inspire his hitherto insipid new-ball bowlers to spring into life: both Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini have struggled for wickets so far in the tournament: Pollock's seven wickets have cost him more than 37 apiece, while Ntini averages nearly 49.
Other highlights from the match
AB de Villers has become the first batsman to score four zeroes in a single World Cup. Nathan Astle and Ijaz Ahmed hold the record for most ducks in World Cup matches - each has five - while Inzamam-ul-Haq, Kris Srikkanth and Keith Arthurton have four each.
The six that Herschelle Gibbs struck off Jacob Oram takes his tally of sixes in World Cup matches to 28, which equals Ricky Ponting's record. In the current edition he has 14 sixes, which is also the highest for the tournament.
Gibbs completed 1000 World Cup runs in this game, becoming the 11th batsman to reach the mile stone. He also became only the second batsman, after Sachin Tendulkar, to register ten or more fifty plus scores in World Cups. Gibbs now has eight fifties and two hundreds, while Tendulkar has 13 half-centuries and four hundreds - a total of 17 fifty-plus scores.
Fleming completed 8000 runs in this game to become the 16th batsman to reach the milestone in ODIs. Fleming's half-century in this game is his 38th as captain in ODIs, which is a record. The earlier record was held by Arjuna Ranatunga, who has 37.