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Kiwis clinch series with two run victory

New Zealand gained its first series win over South Africa when it won the fifth of six one-day cricket internationals on Sunday by two runs at Eden Park.

india Updated: Feb 29, 2004 13:10 IST

New Zealand gained its first series win over South Africa when it won the fifth of six one-day cricket internationals Sunday by two runs at Eden Park.

Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher battered 34 from the last two overs to carry South Africa within a whisker of a win which would have kept the series alive ahead of its finale in Napier on Tuesday.

Kallis thrashed 58 runs from 60 balls and Boucher 48 from 30, including two of three sixes in the last over, to keep the match in the balance until the final ball.

The match was almost a replay of the third encounter in Wellington which New Zealand won by five runs after South Africa took 21 runs off the last six balls.

Kyle Mills, who was hit for three sixes by Shaun Pollock in the last over at Wellington, relived that agony Sunday when Boucher and Kallis hit him for three sixes, a four and two singles in a thrilling last over.

New Zealand scored 193-8 batting first in a match slashed from 50 to 33 overs per side by rain.

South Africa was set a revised target of 177 when its inning was cut to 29 overs by a further shower.

South Africa's scoring rate dawdled when it was reduced to 86-5 in the 19th over and it was left needing 37 runs from the last 12 balls, finally 28 off the last over.

That target seemed unattainable but Kallis and Boucher took nine runs, scoring off every ball in the 28th over, then shook New Zealand with an all-out attack over the last six balls.

The equation turned in South Africa's favor when the third ball, which was a no-ball, was hit for six by Boucher.

That left 20 runs off four balls and 14 runs off three when Boucher crashed another ball into the stands.

The fifth ball of the over yielded a single, the sixth another six and seven runs were needed off the last ball for a South African win.

Mills made certain the delivery was neither a no-ball nor a wide and although Kallis crashed the ball for four, South Africa fell short of its target.

Jacob Oram, who took 2-20, and Chris Cairns, with 2-22, shared credit for restraining the South African run-chase with economical six-over spells.

Earlier, recalled veteran Chris Harris made 55 from 55 balls to lead New Zealand.

Harris' record career of 238 one-day matches seemed over when he missed selection for the first four matches of the six-match series against the Proteas and for recent series against Pakistan.

The 34-year-old was recalled Sunday largely because his slow-medium bowling was thought to be effective on an easy-paced pitch.

He bowled four overs, conceding only 20 runs but it was his solid half century and his brilliant catch to dismiss Herschelle Gibbs which most helped New Zealand.

From the start, South Africa showed more enthusiasm than New Zealand for a match which was postponed from Saturday because of rain and considerably delayed from its scheduled start on Sunday.

They made a vital, although fortunate, breakthrough in the second over when New Zealand's captain Stephen Fleming — an innings backbone throughout the series — was out caught behind the second over and to the first ball he faced.

Television replays showed the ball from Mikhaya Ntini missed the bat and struck Fleming on the back leg before flying low to Jacques Kallis at second slip.

Ntini capitalized on that early success to record South Africa's best figures of 3-47 from a seven-over spell, dismissing Fleming's opening partner Hamish Marshall for 18 and Brendon McCullum for 11.

New Zealand seemed to put an additional emphasis, because of the reduction in overs, on boundaries and that policy led to risks and the regular loss of wickets.

South Africa fielded well, its bowlers maintained a good line and New Zealand struggled to score at the rate they thought necessary: finally achieving 5.8 runs per over.

First Published: Feb 29, 2004 13:10 IST