McCullum hails bowling fightback in close loss

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2013
James Franklin
Getty Images
ONE DOWN: James Franklin celebrates taking the wicket of Quinton de Kock during South Africa's run-chase.
Brendon McCullum
Photosport
SALUTE: Brendon McCullum congratulates Kyle Mills on taking a wicket.

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Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum has saluted the fighting characteristics of his side, despite his side losing the final one-dayer against South Africa in Potchefstroom this morning in a thrilling last-ball finish.

South African all-rounder Ryan McLaren hit a six off James Franklin’s final delivery to secure the hosts a one-wicket win, chasing the Black Caps total of 260 for nine.

A victory for New Zealand would have claimed the first ever series white-wash - by any international side - of South Africa in the Republic.

Despite the loss this morning, McCullum’s side had already secured a historic first ever series victory in South Africa.

The skipper said the nature of their victories in the three-match series, and the grit they showed throughout, was the most satisfying aspect of the last two weeks.

‘‘It would have been great to win the series three nil, but winning the series, achieving what we’ve achieved in this series and even how we’ve played today as well; we’ve showed the characteristics that we want to be known for,’’ McCullum said.

Grant Elliott (54), Colin Munro (57) and James Franklin (53 not out) all impressed with the bat in New Zealand’s first innings, while Kyle Mills (2 for 40) and Nathan McCullum (1 for 35) were the most effective with the ball defending the New Zealand total.

But for South Africa, it was the innings of test captain Graeme Smith that eventually proved the difference for the hosts, scoring a well-measured 116 off 130 balls.

‘‘Graeme Smith’s innings today was a phenomenal innings and deserved to be on the winning side,’’ McCullum said.

‘‘I still thought we showed some real character and some real fighting qualities to hang in there again, when we were behind the eight ball and get ourselves back in the game.

‘‘But it’s been a fantastic series for us. Some significant strides forward and we now know that we are capable of competing against the best and we’ve got to make sure we do it on a consistent basis.’’

McCullum talked up the efforts of his bowlers, on what proved to be a batsman’s wicket at Potchefstroom.

‘‘Our bowlers tried hard all day,’’ he said. ‘‘Obviously the wicket did skid on a little bit, and it was probably slightly easier to bat on in that second innings again.

‘‘But that’s the nature of the toss as well and playing in foreign conditions. I can’t speak highly enough of the effort from our guys. I thought today was a big day for us.

‘‘On the back of winning the series, to turn up and still play the style of cricket that we wanted and show the characteristics that we wanted was a really important step for us too. It would have been lovely to get across the line, but we’ll walk away with a pretty pleased series result.’’

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- Fairfax Media

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