S Africa bounce back with victory

Parnell scalps five as hosts stay alive in the race

S Africa bounce back with victory

Got Him!: South Africa’s Wayne Parnell appeals successfully for a leg-before verdict against Ross Taylor on Thursday. AFP

Facing early elimination after their 55-run loss to Sri Lanka on Tuesday, Graeme Smith’s men extended New Zealand’s miserable run on Protean soil with a professional five-wicket victory on Heritage Day here.

The Kiwis came into this match with just two wins from 18 matches in South Africa, and never appeared set to improve on that record. Strangulated early on by highly disciplined bowling from Dale Steyn in particular, New Zealand were rolled over for 214 with 13 deliveries left unutilised as left-arm swing bowler Wayne Parnell, named the man of the match, registered his maiden five-for (5/57).

Even on a surface that played slow and low, and aided the spinners liberally, it was a total well short of likely to trouble South Africa, especially considering New Zealand’s selectorial gaffe that reduced off-spinner Jeetan Patel to 12th man status and forced left-arm spinning skipper Daniel Vettori to shoulder the responsibility as the lone tweaking action.

Smith left early but the rest of the top order cashed in on a flat bowling effort from the 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy champions, South Africa coasting to 217 for five. New Zealand’s hands were somewhat tied by the unavailability of all-rounder Jacob Oram (minor hamstring tear) and paceman Ian Butler (stomach bug), but by not posting a sizeable score despite being promisingly placed at 163 for three with Ross Taylor in the mood, they gave themselves no chase to run the Proteas close. Shane Bond bowled his heart out, never mind what the figures say, and Vettori was probing as ever, but them apart, there was neither control nor incisiveness. Consequently, New Zealand couldn’t cash in on Smith’s quick departure as Jacques Kallis unfurled a series of searing strokes while Hashim Amla was happy to anchor the innings.

There wasn’t one single partnership that took the game away from the Kiwis, but there were enough associations of reasonable susbstance for South Africa to always feel in control. Kallis and Amla put on 52 (63b) for the second wicket before ceding centrestage to AB de Villiers, the elegant right-hander full of energy.

De Villiers began with characteristic panache and kept coming hard at the bowlers despite Amla and Jean-Paul Duminy falling in fairly quick succession, and Mark Boucher played a little gem as South Africa won with plenty in the tank. There wasn’t much in the Kiwi tank in the morning. Smith’s luck with the coin held and in a bid to cash in on whatever advantage a 9.30 am start might provide, he promptly stuck the opposition in.

Unlike on Tuesday, the Proteas began brilliantly with the ball, providing neither room nor length as Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder were forced to work for their runs. A frustrated Ryder holed out to mid-on, brilliantly caught by a back-pedalling Roelf Van der Merwe, and while McCullum did play a few bold strokes, New Zealand’s innings was going nowhere. Their cause wasn’t helped by Martin Guptill throwing his hand away, providing Parnell with his second gift as he picked out deep backward square with an ill-advised pull.

McCullum fell on the sweep, ironically ushering in New Zealand’s best batting phase as an initially becalmed Taylor and the industrious Grant Elliott brought the game into balance with a fourth-wicket partnership of 71 (95b). Taylor, struggling at the start to adapt to the two-paced nature of the surface, finally lashed out with some effect, but the South African attack as a unit refused to give in.

When the impressive left-arm spin of Van der Merwe found just reward for exceptional bowling by trapping Elliott in front, Parnell stepped in and finished off the innings, the last seven Kiwi sticks going down for just 51 runs.

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