New Zealand went top of the World Cup table as a thrilling four-wicket win at Edgbaston effectively ended South Africa’s interest in the tournament.
Chasing a modest 241 for victory in a 49-over contest, New Zealand were in trouble at 80-4 after opener Martin Guptill had been dismissed in freak fashion.
But Kane Williamson played a true captain’s innings, making an unbeaten 106 from 138 balls, and crucial support from Colin de Grandhomme (60) saw the Black Caps home with three balls to spare as they retained their unbeaten record.
It was a classy performance from Williamson, refusing to panic when wickets were lost around him, while De Grandhomme bludgeoned boundaries at the right time.
But how South Africa will curse lost opportunities. David Miller, having just been inches from catching Williamson off Imran Tahir, was unable to hold on to a difficult one-handed chance from the spinner when De Grandhomme was on 22.
Williamson should also have been run out on 77, but he went on to complete a 12th ODI hundred – levelling the scores with a six before striking the winning four off Andile Phehlukwayo.
South Africa skipper Faf Du Plessis had declared his side could afford no more slip-ups after taking only three points from their opening five games.
So South Africa’s dream of a first World Cup win looks over, even if progress to the last four still remains mathematically possible.
New Zealand’s chase was being conducted with a minimum of fuss despite the early loss of Colin Munro, who had offered a return catch to Kagiso Rabada after being surprised by extra bounce.
But then Guptill went in bizarre fashion, losing his balance as he pulled Phehlukwayo through mid-wicket and treading on his stumps.
Guptill became the first New Zealander to be out hit-wicket in World Cup history, and the 10th from all countries.
Chris Morris then had Ross Taylor and Tom Latham caught behind and New Zealand had lost four wickets for eight runs in the space of 20 balls.
New Zealand were still 105 runs short of victory when Jimmy Neesham became the fifth man out, but De Grandhomme played superbly before holing out in the penultimate over.
Earlier, South Africa made 241-6 with Rassie Van Der Dussen (67 not out) and Hashim Amla (55) both making half-centuries, yet never dominating the Black Caps’ attack.
Lockie Ferguson took 3-59 with his extra pace, but Matt Henry, De Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner all delivered useful economy rates.
Provided by Press Association Sport
We have just crossed the halfway point of the 2019 World Cup and we have witnessed some outstanding individual performances.
There are quite a few candidates for the batting performance of the tournament, with Eoin Morgan’s record century against Afghanistan the latest.
One the bowling front as well, there have been some impeccable efforts from world-class bowlers across teams.
While great performances with bat and ball will continue to pour in over the next few weeks, we might have already seen the ball of the tournament.
In the match between New Zealand and South Africa in Birmingham, the Kiwis bowled first and their seamers tried to make the most of overcast conditions. Left-arm seamer Trent Boult sent Quinton de Kock early but South African captain Faf du Plessis held fort.
With the Proteas approaching the 15-over mark with no further damage, fast bowler Lockie Ferguson produced the ball of the tournament to send Du Plessis back to the hut.
After bowling a quick bouncer, off the last ball of the 14th over Ferguson hurled a 92mph yorker at the base of Faf’s off stump and despite his best effort to block the delivery from the crease, the skipper lost his woodwork. The batsman tried but couldn’t even block the delivery.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
Ferguson is the engine of the Kiwi bowling attack. The right arm pacer has been the quickest bowler across 10 overs in this World Cup and is already among the top wicket takers this tournament with 11 scalps.
Not only that, he has maintained an economy of 4.4. If he continues to fire on all cylinders, the Kiwis will be good as gold.
Australia will need to be on top of their game when they take on a dangerous and in-form Bangladesh in the 2019 World Cup in Nottingham on Thursday.
Bangladesh sent out a major warning to all teams in the tournament as they chased down 322 against the West Indies with nearly 10 overs to spare.
The Tigers have already defeated South Africa and ran New Zealand close before losing.
Australia know the enormity of the task at hand. And the one name on everyone’s mind is Shakib Al Hasan.
THE SHAKIB FACTOR
Shakib has had a sensational World Cup so far, smashing two centuries and as many fifties. He has also picked up five wickets at an economy of less than six. He is easily the MVP of the tournament so far.
The balance he provides at No3 plus the control his left-arm spin gives to skipper Mashrafe Mortaza make him the most crucial member of the side.
Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey admitted his team must find ways to keep Shakib quiet across 100 overs on Thursday.
“We’ve obviously put our time into Shakib and all the players at the top of the order as well as their bowling,” Carey said on Wednesday.
“He’s in probably career-best form with the white ball. So we sort of know the areas and line and length we want to bowl to him and I guess out there we’ll assess the conditions as well.
“We leave that up to the bowlers and the captain to do that, but he’s one guy we want to get out early.”
The defending champions are in a great space at the moment. They have four wins out of five and the only defeat to India could have gone either way in a high-scoring match.
The batting line-up is in great nick and the bowlers – led by Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc – are as threatening as any in the tournament.
The only aspect of their game Australia will be thinking about is the inclusion of a spinner. They omitted both Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon from the playing XI that beat Sri Lanka in the previous match, but they have to make a frontline spinner a regular part of their campaign soon.
Also, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis could return after missing Australia’s last two matches with a side strain.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mustafizur Rahman
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon