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ICC World Cup 2019: Williamson ton, de Grandhomme blitz helps New Zealand down erratic South Africa

Kane Williamson brought up his century in the final over, and helped his side get over the line against South Africa in a humdinger in Edgbaston.

cricket Updated: Jun 20, 2019 08:02 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Birmingham
ICC World Cup 2019,Kane Williamson,Colin de Grandhomme
New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson (C) greets the other players after scoring the winning runs to end the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between New Zealand and South Africa at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, on June 19, 2019. - New Zealand won by 4 wickets(AFP)

Like 2015, this time too New Zealand are the bearers of the news South Africa dread. They are almost out of the World Cup. Almost, because a fraction of hope is held out due to probabilities, complicated calculations and the odd rain dance. South Africa however know in their hearts that they were undone by a sub-par batting effort that the bowlers tried their best to defend. And nothing really can be done when Kane Williamson is gifted two reprieves.

COMPETE COVERAGE OF ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019

Imran Tahir appealed, and then almost pleaded to Faf du Plessis to review what he thought was a faint edge off Williamson’s bat. New Zealand were 169/5 then, still edgy with Williamson trying to build a partnership with Colin de Grandhomme. It was also unusual for Williamson to shadow Tahir’s leg-break without any footwork. It seemed he had pulled out of the late cut but Tahir differed. Du Plessis however remained stern in the face of Tahir’s desperate appealing. A few moments later, TV replays showed Williamson had indeed bottom-edged it. Tahir looked inconsolable. And since this is South Africa, they were given another chance to bounce back. Williamson hesitated for a close single, allowing Kagiso Rabada to quickly run, pick up the ball and throw it towards the end the New Zealand skipper was headed in a mad scramble. The throw wasn’t perfect but David Miller made a clumsier effort to gather and broke the stumps without ball in hand.

This wasn’t South Africa’s day perhaps but it could have been had Williamson not batted like a rock when wickets fell in a flurry at the other end. Chris Morris is the man behind this drama. Three timely dismissals and a hit wicket out of nowhere gave South Africa an unexpected window. And for the first time, New Zealand—unbeaten in the tournament—showed they can crack under pressure. Steadied by a career-saving fifty by Hashim Amla, South Africa upped the ante in the last 10 overs to raise 75 runs, but New Zealand still looked in control after restricting them to 241 on a two-paced pitch.

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Kagiso Rabada was negated well. Lungi Ngidi was seen off too. All seemed heading in the right direction till Martin Guptill tracked back too deep. Trying to hook Andile Phehlukwayo’s short-pitched delivery, Guptill swivelled but lost balance to break his stumps. Within the space of 19 deliveries New Zealand suffered two more blows. Morris strayed down the leg but Ross Taylor went for tickle that Quinton de Kock accepted with glee. Taylor had made the same mistake during the win over Bangladesh. Tom Latham was next, done in by Morris’s seaming away delivery. James Neesham’s dismissal set off the alarms.

His was a scratchy innings, made to look worse by the inability to read Imran Tahir’s spin. With a straight drive off Phehlukwayo in the 32nd over, Neesham tried to announce that all was well with him despite the nervous dabble with uncertainty. Morris however ended his stay with another seamer that Neesham couldn’t steer past Amla at wide first slip. Then came the reprieves. Williamson marched on but Colin de Grandhomme raced to his fifty in 39 deliveries. Had Trent Boult not dropped Aiden Markram off Grandhomme’s bowling in the 31st over, he would have had him much earlier. But this innings should help ease that pain.

This is a nothing short of a rude awakening for South Africa. Not in a long time have they looked so ordinary in batting. Maybe there was too much distraction in the form of AB de Villiers. Maybe the narrative could have been different had the match against West Indies not got washed out. It’s still about performance though. The capitulation against England was a warning. Losing to Bangladesh was a jolt. India served them the last warning. This isn’t a tragedy anymore. South Africa have lost the plot.

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 00:44 IST

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