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The Electronic Telegraph 6th Super Six Match: South Africa v New Zealand
Michael Henderson - 10 June 1999

South Africa take high road

South Africa (287-5) bt New Zealand (213-8) by 74 runs

On and on the South Africans bustle, as though they had learnt their manners from that splendid highwayman, Mr Toad. Hansie Cronje's team barged New Zealand into a Birmingham ditch yesterday without so much as a by-your-leave, and there wasn't a thing the Kiwis could do to resist. Parp, parp!

At the moment, the South Africans are the kings of the road, and the road leads to Lord's. They made their highest score in the competition, after winning a helpful toss. Then they restricted New Zealand on a good batting pitch with another well-drilled performance, in which the fielders supported the bowlers to a man. Their only fear may be that things are going almost disturbingly well, when they need to keep some powder dry for the final round of this World Cup.

They reached the semi-finals with this win and they could yet keep the Australians out of the last four if they beat them at Headingley on Sunday. This victory was so easily achieved that the later stages became a bit of a bore. Even on a pitch as fine as this, New Zealand were never going to make 288, and, after a moderate start which bumped up their requirement at the halfway stage to eight an over, they fell well short.

There was a consolation of sorts, an individual one. Geoff Allott, their left-arm pacer, collected his 19th wicket of the tournament when he yorked Herschelle Gibbs for 91, and established a World Cup record. Until yesterday the record had been 18 wickets, shared by the Pakistan captain, Wasim Akram, Craig McDermott, of Australia, and, less obviously, Roger Binny, the Indian dobber. That is not a bad record to claim, though Lance Klusener is well-placed to go past it next week.

The other bowlers had less to show for their efforts. Chris Harris conceded 19 off an over as Jacques Kallis drove two big straight sixes, and Chris Cairns bowled one five runs dearer when Kallis and Cronje, twice, dispatched him over the ropes. Cronje's second six, a savage whack, struck the top of the Eric Hollies Stand at midwicket.

Cronje's brief innings of 39, from 22 balls, embellished the start that Gibbs and Gary Kirsten had provided. In a stand that will have pleased their captain, who was growing tired of the imperfections at the top of the order, the openers made 176, 10 runs fewer than Kirsten and Andrew Hudson made against Holland at Rawalpindi in the last World Cup.

A man who averages 40 in this type of cricket, as Kirsten does, is doing a grand job for his team. He batted in an untroubled way here until, having picked up Nathan Astle over square leg for the first six of the innings, he miscued a catch to midwicket. During his innings, he passed 4,000 runs in one-day internationals, another notch on his belt.

Kirsten failed to take the hundred that was there, however, and so did Gibbs, whose dismissal followed a rare failure by Klusener. Swinging at Gavin Larsen in the way he prefers, Klusener was bowled for four, which means he now has a batting average in this competition - of 210. It is 400 runs exactly since he was last dismissed in a one-day international, and he has also banked 16 World Cup wickets. That's a fair return for a lower-order batsmen who bowls third change.

There was some ferocious hitting in the last 10 overs, by Cronje and by Kallis, whose unbeaten 53 from 36 balls, allied to his two wickets, made him an uncontested choice as man of the match. This innings could not have been more dissimilar in character than the one he played against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last Saturday and, on both occasions, it suited the team's purpose.

The way he clobbered his three sixes into the rickety shed that serves as the pavilion threatened the masonry. Kallis is a man of considerable upper-body strength, as he proves by generating high pace from an apparently unthreatening action. In his season with Middlesex in 1997, he reverse-swept two sixes square of the wicket in a NatWest Trophy match. You can't do that sort of thing if you're a milk-and-water cricketer.

Though he left the field later with a strained stomach, Kallis had played his part, finding two lovely balls that left the bats of Matthew Horne and Astle, and being gratefully received at slip. Cronje could then rotate his bowlers at will and his own mood improved when Gibbs and Shaun Pollock took the catches that gave him two wickets.

After such a poor start, there was no place for New Zealand to turn. Klusener collected two more wickets, and there was some typically impressive fielding, not least by Kirsten, who picked up and threw an excellent return which caught Adam Parore six inches short of his ground. Roger Twose, who used to play his cricket for Warwickshire, was given a decent hand but the game was beyond his compass, and the final word was Pollock's slow, slow ball that deceived Dion Nash.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk