Black Caps win first ODI series in Republic
One of the best hundreds by a New Zealander in one-day international cricket has fittingly led to history being made in South Africa today.
Kane Williamson crafted as good an innings as we have seen by a New Zealand batsman in the last decade, finishing unbeaten on 145 from 136 balls before New Zealand fielded their way to a 27-run victory over South Africa in Kimberley.
Having now won the first two matches in the three-match series, New Zealand secured their first series victory in any format in 60 years of playing international cricket in South Africa.
"I'm not going to underplay it," captain Brendon McCullum said.
"It's a phenomenal effort, really, to come over here as the No 9 ranked team in the world up against the (No 3) team in their own conditions and be 2-0 up is incredibly satisfying. It will probably go down as one of our biggest ever wins in the limited overs game.
"We're very pleased, and it's a nice way to finish off the tour after a pretty tough time."
McCullum praised the team's character and fighting spirit, which "allowed us to get through", though he obviously made special mention of Williamson's knock.
"Kane Williamson's innings was as good as I've ever seen from a New Zealander in one-day cricket and a few guys backed it up around him as well.
"The way we were in the field, the guys were outstanding. I'm very proud of the boys, they've shown a lot of character.
"Hopefully all the fans back home who have stuck by us, this is a little bit of love for them."
Admittedly, South Africa were under-strength, but New Zealand deserve much credit for the way they've fought back from losing positions in both matches, particularly after what transpired in the test series. Their fielding today, effecting a record-equalling five run outs, was exceptional.
But it was Williamson who gave his team every chance of wrapping up the series.
He strode to the crease with New Zealand still without a run on the board into the third over and built a magnificent innings.
The diminutive right-hander was still there at the end, leading a late surge. His third ODI hundred included 17 fours and one six, struck off the final ball of the innings when he lofted Morne Morkel over long on to get New Zealand to 279-8.
The 22-year-old struggled with cramp in the latter stages but he still regularly found the boundary as he posted the equal sixth highest score by a New Zealander in ODIs.
"It was obviously nice to contribute like that to a win in such an important game," he said, before modestly deflecting praise onto his batting partners and the fielding effort in the second innings.
"The second half of the match was the key, with all those run-outs."
South Africa looked in control of the chase when Graeme Smith (66) and Colin Ingram (79) were at the crease. Ones and twos came easily, the bad balls were disposed of and New Zealand were powerless to stop the run-a-ball scoring rate.
The pair put on 129 from 132 balls for the second wicket before Smith was run out after an excellent throw from the deep by James Franklin, which sparked a huge collapse.
Stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis also ran himself out, after a direct hit by Nathan McCullum, and when Ingram holed out to BJ Watling at mid off from McCullum's bowling, the hosts had lost 3-13 in four overs.
South Africa's inexperienced middle order was exposed and New Zealand capitalised. McCullum, Franklin and Mitchell McClenaghan put the squeeze on - Farhaan Behardien and David Miller scored 20 runs from the five-over powerplay - and McCullum's day got even better when he deflected a drive onto the wickets at the non-strikers end to run out Miller.
By this stage the rate was close to 10 an over and when Franklin chipped out Ryan McClaren, then Martin Guptill's direct hit found Rory Kleinveldt short, the fourth run out of five, South Africa had lost 6-49 in 14 overs and the match was gone.
Kyle Mills was outstanding with the ball, taking 2-29 from nine as South Africa were bowled out for 252 in the final over.
Du Plessis was livid with the running between the wickets, labelling it "unacceptable".
"We didn't play well again. I thought they got 20 runs too many and then after a fantastic start with the bat, to have five run-outs is unacceptable," he said.
"When you get into that situation (167-1) you should win the game so we as the batting unit will accept that responsibility.
"It was an important one-day series for us, we want to be up there in the rankings as well, but we didn't play well. Hopefully the younger guys can learn from this."
Du Plessis, too, heaped the plaudits on Williamson's knock.
"He showed what to do on this wicket. He took his time up front and played brilliantly. You could see he was cramping but he didn't throw his wicket away. It was a great knock."
Williamson found an ally in Grant Elliott and the pair repaired the innings superbly with a 127-run partnership for the third wicket, from 130 balls.
Williamson was the dominant partner but the recalled Elliott's contribution of 48 from 63 balls was vital.
The middle order didn't fire, though, and wickets tumbled regularly. At 211-7 in the 42nd over, the Kiwis were in danger of being bowled out.
Enter two of the senior pros, Nathan McCullum (19) and Mills (15 not out), who each combined with Williamson to put on 34 runs, from 38 and 15 balls respectively.
New Zealand slammed 54 runs from the final five overs, and 31 from the last two.
Morkel, in for the rested Dale Steyn, suffered in the onslaught and ended with 3-71.
Already missing the likes of Jacques Kallis (rested) and AB de Villiers (suspended), South Africa were robbed of Hashim Amla's services after the classy batsman was ruled out through injury, while Colin Munro made his ODI debut for New Zealand as Rob Nicol was dropped.
MJ Guptill c du Plessis b Kleinveldt 0
BJ Watling lbw b Morkel 12
KS Williamson not out 145
GD Elliott c †de Kock b Kleinveldt 48
BB McCullum*† b Morkel 17
C Munro c Ingram b Tsotsobe 9
JEC Franklin b Tsotsobe 0
JDS Neesham run out (du Plessis/Tsotsobe) 5
NL McCullum c Tsotsobe b Morkel 19
KD Mills not out 15
Extras (lb 4, w 5) 9
Total: 279 (5.58 runs per over)
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Guptill, 2.4 ov), 2-32 (Watling, 12.3 ov), 3-159 (Elliott, 33.5 ov), 4-188 (BB McCullum, 36.5 ov), 5-201 (Munro, 39.4 ov), 6-202 (Franklin, 39.6 ov), 7-211 (Neesham, 41.3 ov), 8-245 (NL McCullum, 47.4 ov)
Q de Kock† b Mills 25
GC Smith run out (Franklin/†BB McCullum) 66
CA Ingram c Watling b NL McCullum 79
F du Plessis* run out (NL McCullum) 2
F Behardien run out (Guptill/†BB McCullum) 31
DA Miller run out (NL McCullum) 14
R McLaren c Guptill b Franklin 2
RK Kleinveldt run out (Guptill) 0
RJ Peterson c NL McCullum b Mills 0
M Morkel not out 19
LL Tsotsobe b Neesham 9
Extras (w 4, nb 1) 5
Total: 252 all out (5.12 runs per over)
Fall of wickets: 1-38 (de Kock, 8.2 ov), 2-167 (Smith, 30.2 ov), 3-174 (du Plessis, 31.4 ov), 4-180 (Ingram, 34.3 ov), 5-211 (Miller, 42.2 ov), 6-215 (McLaren, 43.6 ov), 7 216 (Kleinveldt, 44.2 ov), 8-224 (Behardien, 45.2 ov), 9-232 (Peterson, 46.2 ov), 10-252 (Tsotsobe, 49.1 ov)