New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s calculated century guided the Kiwis to a thrilling win against South Africa. Whenever these two teams meet, a close contest is always on the cards and this game was no exception.
New Zealand elected to bowl first and back their strengths of finding swing. Trent Boult did not disappoint as he bowled a peach to get rid of Quinton De Kock. Hashim Amla banked on his trusted cover drive and showed glimpses of what he can do when in form. He stitched a good partnership with Faf Du Plessis, who promoted himself above Markram. Faf middle everything and looked set for a big score but he was set up by Lockie Ferguson. After bowling a series of short balls, Ferguson bowled a yorker which smashed the stumps, catching Faf by surprise. Another brilliant delivery accounted for Hashim Amla’s wicket. Santner got one to turn ever so slightly but enough to beat Amla’s defence and hit the wickets. Markram took his time to get going but Van Der Dussen scored quickly. After Markram’s wicket, Van Der Dussen ensured that South Africa finished on a high, scoring 43 runs off the last 5 overs.
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Colin Munro began with two cracking fours to Rabada but edged the next ball back to the bowler. Guptill began brightly, allowing Williamson time to settle down. He looked in good touch but lost balance after playing a sweep and got hit wicket. Williamson did not panic after Ross Taylor and Tom Latham both fell cheaply. After some breezy cameos from Neesham and De Grandhomme, Williamson stayed till the end and saw his team home.
There are two methods of chasing down a total, The first one is the method popularised by Virat Kohli, which involves putting pressure on the bowlers through good running and manipulating the field. The second is Dhoni’s method of staying put till the end and then going bonkers. Williamson began cautiously, ensuring that he does not throw his wicket away. His drives kept finding fielders and he repeatedly lost partners at the other end.
His favourite score-rotating shot, the jab to fine leg, was made inconsequential as Faf placed a wide slip. With the pressure mounting, Williamson found an able ally in De Grandhomme, who punished short bowling and kept the equation in check. With 14 needed of two overs, Grandhomme went for glory but found Faf’s safe hands instead. The last ball of the penultimate over, Williamson scored his first boundary after 38 balls, a well-placed push for four which he later admitted was not what he intended to do. After Santner’s single, the fate of the game lied in Williamson’s hands. 7 was required in 5 balls. Williamson picked the slower ball and smashed it over midwicket to complete a memorable century and seal the victory.
South Africa did no favours to themselves by dropping crucial chances, missing run-outs and not taking crucial reviews. Their key players Amla, De Kock, Rabada and Ngidi all look out of sorts and there are questions being raised about Faf’s captaincy and the impact of Ab De Villiers’s offer. This team has great potential and although their campaign is all but over, will never give up until the end. New Zealand look in great form and will aim to reach the semi-finals.
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Also published on Medium.