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New Zealand stun South Africa

By Harish Kotian in Mumbai
Last updated on: October 16, 2006 22:59 IST
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Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram and Jeetan Patel took three wickets each as New Zealand beat South Africa by 87 runs in a Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Monday.

Electing to field after winning the toss, South Africa were bundled out for 108 while chasing New Zealand's 195 all out on a slow, turning pitch.

Mills (3 for 18), Oram (3 for 26) and Patel (3 for 11) shared the wickets as the South African batsmen surrendered tamely.

Only captain Graeme Smith offered resistance, scoring 42 from 57 balls, inclusive of five boundaries.

Earlier, Stephen Fleming played a mature innings of 89 to help New Zealand post a decent 195..

New Zealand innings:

Lou Vincent signalled New Zealand's intentions early, hitting a lofted boundary off speedster Makhaya Ntini over the mid-off fielder. They were aware that batting would be difficult on this slow pitch and it was important to make use of the fielding restrictions.

The pitch for the match was different from the one used in the last match, where Sri Lanka bundled out the West Indies 80.

Vincent looked to attack and force the pace early on, while captain Stephen Fleming was content to play the singles and wait for the loose deliveries.

However, Vincent, after a few forceful boundaries, he dragged one to his stumps and was bowled by Pollock for 17 in the seventh over.

Fleming then added 47 runs for the second wicket with Astle (14), before the latter's stumps were castled by a yorker from Andre Hall.

New Zealand lost another wicket in the next over, when Hamish Marshall played on to his stumps and left his team in a bit of bother at 76 for 3 in the 18th over.

Birthday boy Jacques Kallis, who turned 31 today, started off his day on the right note, getting the wicket of Peter Fulton in his very first over to reduce the Kiwis to 86 for 4 after 21 overs.

After quite a good start, New Zealand were slowly dragging themselves by losing wickets at regular intervals. Fleming looked solid on 45 at the other end, but was getting very little support from the other batsmen.

Tall left-hander Jacob Oram's innings was a big struggle as he failed to read left-arm spinner Robin Peterson. After a few close shouts, he finally gave the short leg fielder a simple catch and was dismissed for 7.

The spinners -- Peterson and Graeme Smith -- proved a handful in the middle overs as they not only kept the batsmen in a tight leash, but also picked three important wickets.

Fleming led from the front with a solid innings of 89, before he became Kallis's third victim of the innings, flicking him straight to Shaun Pollock on the fine leg boundary. If not for Fleming, it could well have been a batting disaster for New Zealand, as the other batsmen failed to make a decent contribution.

The New Zealand captain's 110-ball knock contained 11 boundaries and he battled hard in the hot and humid conditions at the Brabourne for more than three hours.

The last wicket didn't take long to fall as Jeetan Patel was run out for 1 to end the New Zealand at 195 in 45.4 overs.

Kallis was the most successful bower, claiming 3 for 28 in his seven overs, while Peterson took 2 for 34.

However, New Zealand could take heart from the fact that batting is not at all easy on this pitch. It suited the South African all-rounders and spinners, and New Zealand does possess a few slow medium pacers and spinners, who could also be handy.

Early wickets will once again be the key and if New Zealand can strike a few blows early on, they could well call the shots from there on. There could also be the dew factor, which could give the spinners a bit of worry as the match progresses under lights.

South Africa innings:

Kyle Mills gave New Zealand the perfect start when he had South Africa's opener Boeta Dippenaar in the first over the innings, leg before wicket for 0.

In his next over, Mills bowled Herschelle Gibbs through the gate to leave South Africa reeling at 3 for 2 in the third over.

Mills seemed to be relishing the conditions -- the delivery that got Dippenaar came in a tad before straightening, while Gibbs was beaten by a magical in-swinging delivery.

It was not only his swing that was doing the trick. In the ninth over of the innings, he took a wonderful return catch to dismiss Jacques Kallis for 8.

Mark Boucher entered the fray, with the all-rounders to follow, but the onus now was on captain Graeme Smith to repeat what his New Zealand counterpart did.

Even the normally aggressive Mark Boucher found the going tough, scoring a painstaking 8 from 28 balls, before he fell, caught behind to Jacob Oram. That left South Africa at 50 for 4 after 15 overs.

There was further misery for the Proteas when their last recognized batsman and the most important one -- Smith -- fell to Oram for 42.

He tried to loft over the mid-wicket region, but could only offer a simple catch to Daniel Vettori at mid-on.

South Africa had lost half their side for just 69 after 21 overs and Fleming decided to introduce his number one spinner, Vettori, into the attack. The top five batsmen scores read: 42, 0, 0, 8 and 8 for Smith, Dippenaar, Gibbs, Kallis and Boucher respectively.

It was quite clear that New Zealand held the upper hand, but South Africa still had a few all-rounders, who on their day could out make meaningful contributions with the bat.

Shaun Pollock was deceived by a slower one from Oram and he ended up holing a simple catch to the cover fielder as South Africa slumped to 71 for 6 in the 23rd over.

Off-spinner Jeetan Patel, playing in just his 10th one-dayer, wrapped up the innings in style, finishing with 3 for 11. The tail-enders surrendered tamely as South Africa were bowled out for a lowly 108 in 34.1 overs.

Justin Kemp was left stranded on 26, but even he found his usual shot-making difficult on this pitch. He seemed rather helpless at the end as wickets kept falling from the other end.

In the end, it seemed Fleming's smartly-compiled innings of 89 made the difference between the two sides. Quite deservedly, he was named the man of the match.

In all the three matches of the tournament we have seen batsmen struggling in both innings. We are yet to see a team crossing the 200-run mark; as the tournament goes on and the pitches wear, the totals will get smaller and smaller.

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Harish Kotian in Mumbai