Levi breaks Black Caps in second T20
T20 series squaredIAN ANDERSON
Who will win the third T20 international in Auckland on Wednesday?
It was a case of the Levi breaking - the records at Seddon Park.
Imposing South African opener Richard Levi plundered 13 sixes against the Black Caps in Hamilton last night to break the record for most in a Twenty20 international while also recording the fastest century in the shortest form of the game.
In doing so, he spearheaded the visitors to an eight-wicket win in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,700.
Chasing New Zealand's 173 for four off 20 overs, the visitors got home with four overs to spare to tie the three-match series at one apiece and set up a Twenty20 series decider in Auckland on Wednesday night.
The previous best mark for sixes in a T20 innings was 10 by West Indian star Chris Gayle while Levi reached his ton in 45 balls, five quicker than the previous record held jointly by Gayle and NZ stand-in skipper Brendon McCullum.
New Zealand used seven bowlers to try and quell the onslaught as Levi also blasted five fours in his blistering unbeaten 117 off 51 balls - tying Gayle's mark as the highest T20 international individual score.
"In the first game I was a little bit too nervous and the bowling didn't quite go my way," Levi said.
"Tonight was one of those nights when everything came into place and came off.
"I got out of my pressure situation quite early on and just enjoyed it from there."
Levi felt he'd hardly raised a sweat during his demolition job.
"It feels like I've had six overs out there - it feels like I should still be going on."
He shrugged off a verbal attack from Tim Southee as easily as he did New Zealand's bowling.
"He said some things but that's part of the game and you kind of expect it. I didn't expect it from one or two, I expected it from the whole side. If you can't handle it you've got to let it go and learn a way to handle it."
He pummelled 16 off Doug Bracewell's opening over and the second of South Africa's reply and the visitors were in the driver's seat from there.
His biggest scare came when the "out" sign flashed up on the big screens when the third umpire had just begun his review of a potential run-out in the third over.
Skipper AB de Villiers chipped in 39 not out, with he and Levi putting on an unbroken third-wicket partmership of 133 in 11.4 overs.
Earlier, all of the New Zealand's top five chipped in to make a competitive total but McCullum felt it was 20 runs short of a par score.
"It certainly wasn't our best performance," McCullum admitted.
"We came up against a guy who played an innings you just had to sit back and admire really.
"Tonight we just came up against someone who was too good for us,"
South Africa opened the bowling with off-spinner Johan Botha after winning the toss and inserting the hosts but it did little to stop the opening duo of Guptill and Nicol again get the Black Caps off to a rollicking start.
The pair used stand-and-deliver tactics on a track tailor-made for the batsmen to attack the visiting quicks.
They did initially survive some close calls however before losing Nicol (23 off 17 balls) to a run out when Guptill called him through for a sharp single only for South African skipper and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers to catch him short with a direct hit at the non-striker's end.
The South African pacemen were guilty of firing too many deliveries down leg side and Guptill and Brendon McCullum also proved adept at finding the gaps in the field.
Guptill's 47 came off 35 balls (seven fours and a six) before he top-edged a hook off rookie seamer Marchant de Lange, ensuring he fell three short of his seventh consecutive half-century of the home season.
McCullum contributed 35 off 31, but the visitors got breakthroughs at critical times to hinder New Zealand's momentum.
James Franklin advanced New Zealand's cause with four sixes in five balls among his rapid 28 from 10 deliveries while Kane Williamson was unbeaten on 28 off 20.
Botha was the standout with the ball for the visitors, taking 1-22 off his four overs.
RJ Nicol run out (AB de Villiers) 23
MJ Guptill c JA Morkel b M de Lange 47
BB McCullum c JL Ontong b J Botha 35
KS Williamson not out 28
JEC Franklin c AB de Villiers b M Morkel 28
C de Grandhomme not out 3
Extras (b 1, lb 3, wd 5, nb 0) 9
Total (for 4 wickets, 20.0 overs) 173
Fall: 1-37 (RJ Nicol, 4.3), 2-97 (MJ Guptill, 11.5), 3-114 (BB McCullum, 14.4), 4-159 (JEC Franklin, 17.5)
Bowing: J Botha 4-0-22-1, LL Tsotsobe 3-0-23-0 (1w), M Morkel 4-0-38-1, M de Lange 4-0-43-1 (4w), WD Parnell 2-0-15-0, JP Duminy 3-0-28-0
RE Levi not out 117
HM Amla c JEC Franklin b NL McCullum 2
WD Parnell st BB McCullum b RJ Nicol 4
AB de Villiers not out 39
Extras (lb 2, wd 10, nb 0) 12
Total (for 2 wickets, 16.0 overs) 174
Fall: 1-25 (HM Amla, 2.1), 2-41 (WD Parnell, 4.2)
Bowing: NL McCullum 2-0-18-1 (1w), DAJ Bracewell 2-0-37-0, TG Southee 4-0-40-0 (2w), RJ Nicol 1-0-10-1 (1w), RM Hira 4-0-34-0 (1w), KD Mills 2-0-26-0, JEC Franklin 1-0-7-0
Which batting pair would be best at opening in ODIs for the Black Caps?