SA beat NZ by 3 runs in thriller at Auckland
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman-wicketkeeper AB de Villiers led his side to a thrilling 3 run win against New Zealand in their T20I encounter at Auckland on Wednesday. He captured the T20I series 2-1 in the process, his first T20I Series win as Captain of South Africa.
Put into bat first by New Zealand, South Africa’s sensation of the season Richard Levi mustered only 11 runs with a four and a six while Albie Morkel’s promotion to no. 3 didn’t pay off but Hashim Amla remained firm at one end making runs. SA’s innings got a much needed thrust during the 62 run partnership for the fourth wicket between AB de Villiers and JP Duminy which they made in 35 balls.
Trying a reverse sweep off Rob Nicol, AB de Villiers seemed to have injured his hamstring and was in pain through the rest of his innings, eventually ending with 29 off 23 with two fours and a six.
Nicol was NZ’s best bowler, taking 2/20 in his 3 overs. SA finished at 167/5, an under-par score given the small boundaries on the ground.
Martin Guptill and Nicol then added 65 runs in just 6 overs before Nicol was dismissed and Guptill followed soon. Brendon McCullum then added another 39 runs for the third wicket with Jesse Ryder before he was caught behind by de Villiers off Peterson trying to go for a big swing on a short ball on off.
Johan Botha and Morne Morkel then slowly reversed the pressure back on NZ, giving away only 18 runs in overs 16-19 and taking the crucial wicket of the well set Jesse Ryder for 56 in the penultimate over.
NZ needed 7 runs off the last over. Marchant de Lange kept it tight, having Nathan McCullum caught behind by de Villiers and Doug Bracewell caught at point by Amla. A front foot no ball on the last ball of the over saw NZ take one run, reducing the equation to 4 needed off 1 with the last ball a free hit. Tim Southee’s swing met only air as a back of a length ball outside off went into AB de Villiers’ hands, giving him his first T20I series as skipper.
The win, with SA not on the receiving end of a choke for once meant that SA came back from losing the first T20I to win two on the trot and take the T20I series 2-1.