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South Africa beat New Zealand by 1 run

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An almost sell out crowd at Lord's witnessed a thrilling encounter between two of the best Twenty20 teams on the planet. The South Africans failed miserably with the bat but stil came out victors by one run in the end, thanks to some splendid bowling . Being set a target of 129, New Zealand looked in control thanks to Brendon McCullum's innings of 57, but they lost the plot in the middle overs and failed to cross the finish line.

Brendon McCullum won the toss and elected to bowl first in what was a dead rubber, with both t eams already having booked their place in the Super 8. The New Zealand wicketkeeper continues to deputize for Daniel Vettori who has a sore shoulder, and the Kiwis did the sensible thing by not risking him in an irrelevant contest.

Kyle Mills was given a game by the Kiwis and he opened the attack alongwith Jacob Oram. Kallis started out positively as he flicked Oram for a boundary in the 2nd over and then took Mills for a six and a four to get his team off to a flying start. It was Graeme Smith's turn now to get rolling as he greeted Ian Butler with a boundary and then helped himself to two more hits to the fence off debutant medium pacer ,Brendon Diamanti.

Spin was introduced, with Nathan McCullum being given the ball, and he started out well giving away just 2 runs in his first over. In the very next over Kallis was run out, thanks to some great work in the field by Brendon McCullum who showed how quick he can be without the gloves! The Black Caps then bowled some tight overs in between, with just 12 runs coming off the next 3. The pressure paid off when Styris struck in his very first over getting Gibbs out for 3. Things got worse for the Proteas when their skipper was sent back by Butler bowled for 33.

Van der Merwe was sent up the order to boost the run rate but he failed miserably as he yorked himself off the bowling of Nathan McCullum. South Africa were 68-4 at the end of 13 overs, a situation which the Kiwis would have delighted in. AB de Villiers was joined by JP Duminy and all hopes were resting on the duo to steer the ship. De Villiers started out well as he stroked two boundaries, but soon, he too fell to a run out for just 15. It was a big wicket for the Black Caps as De Villiers was the man-in-form coming into the game.

The South Africans boast of a strong batting line up with Boucher coming in at number 7 and they needed this depth in batting to fire. With just 5 overs left and only 86 on the board, the Proteas needed a quick fire cameo form somewhere. Duminy decided to take on the role of an aggressor as he dispatched Oram for a six in an over which went for 12. But he lost Boucher in the 18th over, caught at short extra cover for 6 to give Butler his second wicket.

Mills was brought on for the penultimate over and Duminy took him on, depositing him over mid wicket for a maximum. But he got out off the very next ball caught at mid-on for 29. Oram then bowled a brilliant final over with just 6 runs coming off it as the South Africans ended their 20 overs with a paltry score of 128. It seemed atleast 30-40 short of a match winning total but then again, anything is possible in cricket.

kallis_catch.jpgBrendon McCullum and Martin Guptill came out to open for the Black Caps and they got their team off to a flyer. McCullum helped himself to a boundary in the very first over and then Wayne Parnell was smashed for three fours in the second. Steyn then got one back for South Africa when he had Guptill caught at mid wicket for 6. Kallis was brought on from the other end to replace Parnell and he was greeted with a spanking shot through the covers by McCullum. However, Kallis struck back later in the over, pulling off a great reflex catch to send back Neil Broom for just 1. Ross Taylor came in at number 4 and the Kiwis had their most destructive duo out in the centre.

The South Africans did really well to slow down the innings not allowing the batsmen any free-bees. The next 3 overs yielded just 10 runs with the slowness of the wicket helping the bowlers. It was Taylor who finally broke the shackles as he drove Kallis for a boundary. The Black Caps were 44-2 at the end of 8 overs still requiring 85 off the last 12 overs. With the asking rate still very much under control both the batsmen played sensible cricket keeping the scoreboard moving. Ones and twos were the dominant scoring shots with just two fours being hit off the next 5 overs. Morkel and Van der Merwe were doing a good job keeping things tight, but with 54 needed off the last 7 overs the Black Caps were still very much the favourites.

Van der Merwe finally broke the 56 run stand as he cleaned up Taylor for 22. McCullum who was batting on 50 at the time was left with the responsibility to see his team home. With 46 needed off the last 5 overs, McCullum produced an important boundary off Botha but the off spinner did well to concede only 6 runs in that over. Van der Merwe then bowled a brilliant over with just 4 runs coming off it and to add to it took the prize scalp of McCullum stumped for 57.

It was now down to Oram and Styris to get 36 runs off 18 balls. They made a good start taking 9 runs off the 18th over. The game which seemed won for New Zealand barely 20 minutes ago was now evenly poised if not favouring the South Africans after a swing in the momentum. Steyn was given the penultimate over and he was spot on with his yorkers. But the fast bowler still ended up conceding 12 runs due to some sloppy work in the field and a lucky boundary when the ball jumped out of the bowlers footmarks and leapt over Boucher's head.

19-year old Wayne Parnell was given the responsibility to protect the 14 run advantage, and the former junior captain did not disappoint. Just 7 runs came off the first 4 balls and New Zealand now needed to find the boundary off both of the last two deliveries to sneak a win. Oram french-cut the next ball for four to set-up an unlikely finale, but the young bowler held his nerve and bowled a good last delivery which saw the Black Caps fall one run short of South Africa's 128.

Wednesday sees the last two games of the first stage of the competition with Sri Lanka taking on the West Indies in a mouthwatering prospect, followed by potential lambs to slaughter match-up as Ireland take on the defending champions - India.

Mini Scorecard:

South Africa 128/7 (20 overs)
Smith 33                      Butler 2-13

New Zealand 127/5 (20 overs)
B McCullum 57           Van der Merwe 2-14

Man of the match:  Roloef van der Merwe

Photograph Courtesy: ICC

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