SA script another choke story

Cut above: Jacob Oram (centre) was the hero for the Kiwis as they crushed South Africa on Friday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Try as hard as they might, the C-word comes back to haunt the South Africans at every decisive moment of their cricketing journey.

The Proteas’ latest debacle against New Zealand here at the packed Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Friday laid bare their fragile mental make-up which saw them suffer an ignominious 49-run loss in the third quarterfinal and once again crash out of the show-piece event without fulfilling their dreams.

Seemingly in control of things at 108 for two, in pursuit of New Zealand’s 221 for eight, South Africa, suddenly -- but in all too familiar fashion – lost their way and eventually the match as the Kiwis stormed into the World Cup semifinals for the sixth time.

Daniel Vettori’s men now take on the winners of the quarterfinal between Sri Lanka and England in Colombo on Saturday. All-rounder Jacob Oram, declared the man of the match, was their hero on the night grabbing four for 39 as South Africa folded up for a sorry 172 in 43.2 overs.

On a win-toss-bat-first pitch, Vettori had little hesitation in taking first strike. New Zealand’s batting plan was perfect but the execution was only half as good. The lone big success the Kiwis had in the tournament was against Pakistan and it was going to be their template on Friday too. Vettori’s grandiose plans, however, came unstuck as they lost both their openers with almost next to nothing. A fighting 114-run partnership between Jesse Ryder (83) and Ross Taylor (43) on either side of the collapse took them to a respectable total but South Africa found the target too steep to climb on the day.   

New Zealand’s honest bowling attack was certainly going to find it tough defending the smallish total. The Kiwi hopes of advancing further depended on two things; one was in their own hands – the fielding -- and the other but the more important one was in South Africa’s frailty at the crunch. Much to their delight both conspired to combine in a devastating effect for the Africans.

Very much on track at 108 for two and with AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis going strong, South Africa embraced defeat against the run of play. Kallis fell to an adventurous shot and JP Duminy followed suit. De Villiers then got run out in a mix-up with Francois du Plessis and New Zealand pounced on their rivals like hungry tigers, Du Plessis’ resistance only delaying the inevitable.   

Earlier, using both his pacemen and spinners in several short bursts, Smith stifled New Zealand batsmen who could never break free. Joining forces in the middle at a precarious situation, Ryder and Taylor built the innings brick by brick in the hope of launching a late onslaught. On a surface where the odd ball kept low, stroke-making wasn’t the easiest of tasks and their job became a tad difficult as Smith never allowed them to settle, constantly shuffling his bowlers.

Even so, Ryder and Taylor did a decent job of bringing the innings back on track. Mixing the odd boundary with singles and twos, the pair raised 114 runs off 163 balls and with two set batsmen in the middle New Zealand looked primed for a competitive total. Taylor slog-swept Robin Peterson over mid-wicket for a six and the signs appeared ominous. But the right-hander perished in the next over in a similar attempt off Imran Tahir.

Scott Styris tonked the ball around for a while but the glory didn’t last long as he played Morkel on to his stumps soon. This was quickly followed by a bigger blow, Ryder top-edging an attempted slog off Tahir to Colin Ingram at mid-wicket. Only Kane Williamson (38 n.o.) managed a meaningful score while the rest swung and missed. But with an opposition as obliging as South Africa, New Zealand didn’t have to do much.

SCORE BOARD

NEW ZEALAND

Guptill c Botha b Steyn     1
(14b)
B McCullum c & b Peterson     4
(4b)
Ryder c Ingram b Tahir     83
(121b, 8x4)
Taylor c Kallis b Tahir     43
(72b, 1x4, 1x6)
Styris b Morkel     16
(17b, 3x4)
Williamson (not out)     38
(41b, 1x4, 1x6)
N McCullum C Duminy b Steyn     6
(18b)
Oram b Morkel     7
(6b, 1x4)
Vettori b Morkel     6
(4b, 1x4)
Woodcock (not out)     3
(3b)
Extras (B-4, LB-4, W-6)     14
Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs)     221
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (B McCullum), 2-16 (Guptill), 3-130 (Taylor), 4-153 (Styris), 5-156 (Ryder), 6-188 (N McCullum), 7-204 (Oram), 8-210 (Vettori).
Bowling: Peterson 9-0-49-1, Steyn 10-0-42-2 (w-3), Botha 9-0-29-0 (w-1), Morkel 8-0-46-3, Tahir 9-0-32-2 (w-1), Kallis 3-1-6-0, Duminy 2-0-9-0 (w-1).
Runs during: Power Play1: 1-10 overs: 34/2; Power Play2: 11-15 overs: 23/0; Power Play3 (batting): 45-49 overs: 37/3.

SOUTH AFRICA

Amla c Vettori b N McCullum     7
(5b, 1x4)
Smith c How b Oram     28
(34b, 2x4)                            
Kallis c Oram b Southee     47
(75b, 3x4)
De Villiers (run out)     35
(40b, 4x4)
Duminy b N McCullum     3
(12b)
Du Plessis c Southee b Oram     36
(43b, 3x4, 1x6)         
Botha b Oram     2
(10b)
Peterson c B McCullum b Oram     0
(5b)
Steyn c Oram b Steyn     8
(18b, 1x4)
Morkel c How b Woodcock     3
(17b)
Tahir (not out)     0
(1b)
Extras (LB-2, W-1)     3
Total (all out, 43.2 overs)     172
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Amla), 2-69 (Smith), 3-108 (Kallis), 4-121 (Duminy), 5-121 (de Villiers), 6-128 (Botha), 7-132 (Peterson), 8-146 (Steyn), 9-172 (Du Plessis). 
Bowling: N McCullum 10-1-24-3, Vettori 10-0-39-0, Southee 9-0-44-1, Oram 9-1-39-4, Woodcock 5.2-0-24-1 (w-1) Runs during: Power Play1: 1-10 overs: 50/1; Power Play2: 11-15 overs: 19/1; Power Play3 (batting): 39-43 overs: 26/1.

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