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6th Super Six Match: South Africa v New Zealand
Sa'adi Thawfeeq - 10 June 1999

South Africa 287 for 5

BIRMINGHAM, Thursday _ South Africa's top order batting which has been the concern of captain Hansie Cronje finally came good when Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs shared the highest opening partnership of the '99 World Cup competition to steer them to an imposing total of 287 for 5 wickets in their Super Sixes match against New Zealand at Edgbaston here today.

Left-hander Kirsten, whose previous highest score in the current tournament was 45, made 82 off 120 balls (1 six, 6 fours) and Gibbs, 91 off 118 balls (1 six, 6 fours) as they added 176 off 219 balls for the first wicket, which was only ten short of equalling the all-time World Cup record for that wicket. Kirsten and Andrew Hudson put on 186 against Holland at Rawalpindi three years ago.

The only other century opening partnership in the current tournament was also between Kirsten and Gibbs, who put on 111 against England at the Oval. Both were dismissed insight of well deserved centuries.

Kirsten top edged a sweep off Nathan Astle to be caught by Dion Nash at forward square leg, and Gibbs was bowled middle stump by a perfect yorker from the tournament's leading wicket-taker Geoff Allott, who with that dismissal took his tally to 19 wickets in seven matches an all-time World Cup record. Allott came into this match sharing the record with Roger Binny, Craig McDermott and Wasim Akram on 18 apiece.

Cronje had made it known to his players before the start of today's game, the importance of winning when he said: ``We will take nothing for granted until we have qualified for the semi-finals. The guys are keen to take all four points and finish top of the Super Sixes. We would like to do the job here and get things (qualification) done before Sunday''.

Sunday is when they play Australia at Headingley in the final Super Sixes match and South Africa don't want to leave it to the end to know whether they've qualified.

South Africa have four points and a win over New Zealand would bring them a further two and place them on top of the Super Sixes table displacing Zimbabwe who have five.

Cronje read the Edgbaston pitch well and opted to bat first on winning the toss despite cool and ovecast conditions. There was not much swing or movement for the New Zealand new ball bowlers and soon it became evident the pitch was not going to help them either because it was slow. Donald, Pollock and Kallis may bowl differently with their extra pace.

Following the big opening stand, a collapse soon followed which is quite usual and caught in this flurry of wickets was Lance Klusener, who was dismissed for the first time in the competition in his sixth innings. He scored only one boundary before Geoff Larsen bowled him.

Klusener's previous five innings in the tournament brought him 210 runs without a single dismissal. Overall, he made 400 runs in 10 one-day innings before anyone claimed his wicket.

Darryl Cullinan went without scoring, but his dismissal only brought Kallis and Cronje together. The pair devastated the New Zealand bowlers by adding 54 runs for the fifth wicket off 31 balls. Cronje made 39 off 22 balls with two sixes and two fours before Nash ran him out with a direct throw from the deep.

Kallis went on to complete a grand half-century off 35 balls hitting three sixes and one four and largely to him, South Africa scored 93 off the last ten overs.

Of the New Zealand bowlers, Chris Cairns suffered the most, going for 24 runs in his seventh over, while Harris and Nash also suffered temporarily.

South Africa in convincing win

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

BIRMINGHAM, Friday - ``We were pretty well outplayed,'' said New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming after his team's 74-run defeat by South Africa in their World Cup Super Sixes match played at Edgbaston here yesterday.

Fleming's statement just about summed up how well South Africa played to win this contest and affirm themselves as the tournament favourites by booking a semi-final place. The two points South Africa gained from this match brought their tally to six and put them on top of the Super Six table replacing Zimbabwe, who have five.

South Africa meet Australia in their final match at Headingley on Sunday. More than for South Africa, this match is of great importance for Australia who must win to qualify for the semi-finals, if they are to avoid a net run rate situation with either India or Pakistan.

South Africa displayed a highly professional and workmanlike performance to beat New Zealand. They gave their opponents no chance of getting anywhere near their total of 287 for 8. The asking rate for the Kiwis was 5.74 runs an over and against high quality bowling and outstanding fielding they were nowhere near to achieve it finishing on 213 for 8 when the overs ran out.

The manner in which Jonty Rhodes and Herschelle Gibbs threw themselves around on the field to save runs even in the final over of the match when New Zealand required an impossible 81 runs for victory, typified South Africa's whole attitude.

South Africa showed what amount of reserves they had, when Jacques Kallis was forced to retire with a sore stomach after bowling six overs, and skipper Hansie Cronje filling in the breach went on to take 2 for 37 off seven overs.

The powerfully built Kallis removed both openers conceding 15 runs to follow his crackerjack knock of 53 off 36 balls, which gave him the 'Man of the Match' award. But doubts remained whether South Africa would risk playing him against Australia, now that they have qualified for the semi-finals.

Cronje sent out an ominous warning to other World Cup contenders when he said: ``The best is yet to come''.

``Rather than everyone performing really well up until this stage, I think it will keep those players hungry. The guys are all really hungry and determined to get some runs. I'm quite happy with the way it has built up. It's now time to get stuck in,'' said Cronje.

The turning point for the Proteas came in their victory against Pakistan last Saturday. They recovered magnificently from a lost cause at 58 for 5 to overtake Pakistan's total of 220 losing only a further two wickets.

Lance Klusener failed with the bat yesterday, but South Africa's much criticised top order compensated for that with openers Gary Kirsten and Gibbs sharing a stand of 176 and then Kallis and Cronje adding a further 54 off 31 balls.

The only time New Zealand looked like chasing South Africa's total was when Craig McMillan and Fleming were together. They added 59 for third wicket before Cronje with his medium-pacers accounted for both. McMillan made 23 and Fleming a top score of 42. Roger Twose made 35 and Chris Harris an unbeaten 27, but by then New Zealand's hopes of victory were long gone and they were only intent in keeping their wickets intact and narrowing their losing margin to maintain a steady net run rate.

New Zealand must beat India at Trent Bridge tomorrow (Saturday) if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Source: The Daily News