Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Cricket World Cup 2019: New Zealand's Kane Williamson clinches thriller against South Africa

Captain leads from front in tight run chase at Edgbaston as Proteas edge even closer to World Cup exit door

Kane Williamson top-scored for New Zealand against South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday. Alex Davidson / Getty Images
Kane Williamson top-scored for New Zealand against South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday. Alex Davidson / Getty Images

Kane Williamson rode his luck to guide New Zealand to a tense four-wicket win over South Africa – and move them a step closer to the semifinals of the World Cup.

The New Zealand captain marshalled his side’s run-chase with a fine 106 not out, clinching the game with three balls left as he hit a huge six, then four.

Victory took the undefeated Black Caps back to the top of the points table, with nine points from five games.

South Africa, by contrast, appear to be all but out of the competition, after suffering a fourth loss in six matches.

Williamson managed to be simultaneously both dogged and stylish with the bat as he put together his match-winning hand - but he was also afforded a large amount of good fortune.

As the run-chase became increasingly tense, Williamson – on 76 at the time – edged the last ball of legspinner Imran Tahir’s 10 overs behind to Quinton de Kock.

The wicketkeeper safely held the catch, but had no inkling that the ball had taken the edge. Tahir was interested, but not enough to appeal, or push for a review.

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Almost immediately after, South Africa botched a run out with Williamson clearly out of his ground while attempting a single off Kagiso Rabada.

Then, on 85, he was dropped by Lungi Ngidi off a delivery that was, admittedly, given as no-ball for a waist-high full toss by Andile Phehlukwayo.

At the same time, Williamson had the perfect foil at the other end, in the form of Colin de Grandhomme, who made 60. The duo shared an alliance worth 91 that decided the game in their side’s favour.

An over had been shaved off each innings before the two captains had tossed up on account of an outfield that still needed to dry after a week of heavy rain in the English Midlands.

Williamson opted to bowl first, which seemed the sensible choice, given a number of factors. First, the cloud cover. Second, the fact that Edgbaston is regarded as a ground that offers movement to swing bowlers – of which New Zealand have one of the best going around, in Trent Boult.

And, third, to get straight into a South Africa side that has appeared rather brittle so far in this tournament.

It seemed a savvy move once Boult had fired out the Proteas’ dangerman, Quinton de Kock, for just five.

South Africa resisted thereafter, but it was slow going. Hashim Amla (55), Faf du Plessis (23), and Aiden Markram (38) all made starts. Each, though, had strike-rates in the 60s.

Rassie van der Dussen at least found the pace of the pitch, and top-scored with 67 not out from 64 balls, to help the men in green to 241 for six from their 49 overs.

Lockie Ferguson maintained his strong form with the ball at this tournament. The fast-bowler dismissed Du Plessis, David Miller and Phehlukwayo, to take his tournament tally to 11 wickets for New Zealand.

A spirited Chris Morris gave South Africa a chance with the ball, taking three wickets as the Black Caps stuttered, first to 80 for four, then 137 for five.

The Proteas appeared ahead of the game at that point, with 105 required in less than 17 overs, with five wickets left.

But the combination of Williamson, De Grandhomme, and indiscipline in the field by South Africa meant New Zealand got over the winning line.

Updated: June 19, 2019 11:06 PM

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