x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

South Africa fight on

South Africa keep their Champions Trophy hopes alive with a five-wicket win over New Zealand at the Centurion.

South Africa kept their Champions Trophy hopes alive after a five-wicket win over New Zealand at the Centurion. It was a must-win game for the hosts after the mauling they received from Sri Lanka in the opening game and the Proteas delivered. AB de Villiers, the classy right-hander, was the toast of the home side, stroking a superb 70 not out off 76 deliveries after Hashim Amla (38) and Jacque Kallis (36) had put on 52 for the second wicket.

"This was a big day for us and we stood up to deliver a much-improved performance," said Graeme Smith, the relieved South Africa captain. "Our bowlers set the tone in the first 15 overs with good intensity and they hit the right areas hard. We are now ready for another big game with England." Andrew Strauss' men will be wary of the threat of Wayne Parnell in Sunday's clash after the left-arm paceman returned best figures of five for 57 from eight overs as New Zealand were dismissed for a modest 214.

Jesse Ryder (eight) was the paceman's first victim; the opener falling to a spectacular overhead catch from Roelof van der Merwe at midwicket, and Parnell struck again to have Martin Guptill (21) caught at deep square leg by Amla. Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum took the score to 92 before the latter top-edged Johan Botha to short fine leg for 44 to leave them at 92 for three in the 24th over. Taylor played an anchor role and shared a 71-run stand with Grant Elliott for the fourth wicket before the spinner van der Merwe broke the stubborn partnership with a delivery that straightened and hit Elliott's middle stump.

Taylor hit half-a-dozen fours and a couple of sixes in his 72 from 106 deliveries. He was the eighth man out, trying to accelerate the run-rate, missing a low full toss from Parnell, who came back in the batting powerplay to take three more wickets. Dale Steyn and van der Merwe took two wickets apiece. "Our batsmen got bogged down as we sought a competitive score of about 250 runs," said New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori. "Ross (Taylor) and Grant (Elliott) handled the spinners well but the partnership did not last long enough."

The Black Caps, who are back in action against Sri Lanka on Sunday, need a victory to avoid an early exit. apassela@thenational.ae