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South Africa cruise into semis
Tony Cozier - 10 June 1999

South Africa secured their inevitable place in the World Cup semifinals yesterday with another performance so awesome it is difficult to imagine how anyone can prevent their captain Hansie Cronje raising the trophy at Lord's on June 20.

Their Super Sixes match against New Zealand at Edgbaston was a no-contest. Even the wide margin of victory, by 74 runs, didn't accurately reflect the scale of the one-sidedness.

It was, simply, an extraordinary team dealing with an ordinary one with clinical efficiency. West Indians with cherished memories of the early World Cups would appreciate the situation.

The win put them ahead of the other six teams on six points and, whatever the outcome of their last match on Sunday against Australia, they are through. It left New Zealand on three points and dependent on victory against India tomorrow for their semifinal place.

South Africa are not unbeatable. Like everyone else, even Lloyd's mighty West Indies, they can have a bad day, as Zimbabwe showed in the first round. But it does not occur very often.

Their massive all-round strength was best exemplified yesterday by the barrel-chested strongman Jacques Kallis.

He made his first appearance in the 45th over with South Africa, batting on winning the toss on a cool, overcast day, at 229 for four and already in sight of an imposing total. He proceeded to pummel New Zealand's usually nagging medium-pace bowling for three long sixes, as well as a four, in an unbeaten 53 off 36 balls.

He and his captain, Hansie Cronje, with two sixes in 39 off 22 balls, gathered 52 off the last five overs to push the total to 287 for five.

After the half-time break, Kallis returned to open the bowling, pumping up the fastest recording for the day on the speed-gun at 90 miles an hour and removing New Zealand's openers Matt Horne and Nathan Astle to slip catches in his first six overs.

His exertions caused a stomach muscle strain that sent him to the dressing room for attention and kept him off the field for the remainder of the match.

At least, it proved he is human but he had virtually settled the match on his own. The Man-of-the-Match award was as obvious then as the result.

South Africa's superiority was set up by the highest opening partnership of the tournament, 176 in 36.3 overs, between the left-right combination of Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs.

In four of their previous six matches, they had failed to raise more than 25. It was a statistic Cronje pointed out to the press the day before and Gibbs and the left-handed Kirsten clearly paid heed.

They steadily built their stand, never in trouble against New Zealand's metronomic attack in which the left-arm Geoff Allott was the paciest and the best. They moved from 31 off the first ten overs to 51 off the second ten and 59 off the third ten.

By the time Kirsten topedged a catch to mid-wicket off Astle and was out for 82 (121 balls, one six and six fours), a formidable South African total was a virtual certainty on a pitch offering none of the exaggerated movement of those early in the tournament.

Lance Klusener, the closing overs bully on earlier matches, was promoted to capitalise on the situation but, predictably, failed. He went bowled by Gavin Larsen fifth ball, his first dismissal in the tournament and in his last ten One-day Internationals.

New Zealand had some fleeting comfort when two wickets fell in the space of three balls. Allott expertly yorked Gibbs for 91 (118 balls, a six and six fours) in the 44th over, his 18th wicket in the tournament, a new World Cup record, and Chris Cairns tricked Daryl Cullinan into lobbing a return catch off a slower ball two deliveries later.

It was a prelude to the mayhem created by Kallis and Cronje. One Cairns over brought 24 as Cronje hoisted two sixes, the second off a no-ball, and Kallis one.

Their partnership was a damaging blow to New Zealand's confidence. Kallis was soon back to deliver two more.

After the openers were dismissed, New Zealand's cause was hopeless against bowling that was always probing, constantly changing in pace but seldom in length and line, and fielding that was as sharp as always. Captain Stephen Fleming, a tall, elegant left-hander, played fluently for 42 but it took him 64 balls. The forlorn situation finally induced a catch to mid-on off Cronje.

For Roger Twose, the left-hander born in England, it was a homecoming since he had played seven seasons on the same ground when with Warwickshire in the county championship. His 35 off 40 balls was the most forthright batting of the New Zealand innings but he was fighting a cause that had been long since lost.

Source: The Express (Trinidad)