Auckland - South Africa secured a series win by the narrowest of margins as they beat New Zealand by three runs in the third Twenty20 international at Eden Park in Auckland on Wednesday.
GALLERY: New Zealand v South Africa Third T20
The victory ensured that the Proteas took the series 2-1 but the match had seemed to be heading New Zealand’s way as the hosts, chasing 166 to win, were left needing 10 runs to win off the last two overs with six wickets in hand. But they could only manage 162 for seven off their 20 overs.
Off-spinner Johan Botha was tasked with bowling the penultimate over of the match and he did superbly to allow just three runs while also picking up the wicket of the well-set Jesse Ryder who had scored 52 off 42 balls.
Marchant de Lange, the 21-year-old fast bowler playing in just his second T20 international, bowled the last over and he showed calm beyond his years to take two wickets for one run off his first five balls.
New Zealand needed six runs off one ball to win but De Lange produced a front-foot no ball to leave the Black Caps needing four runs off the last ball, a free hit.
De Lange held his nerve superbly to beat the outside edge of Tim Southee’s bat as South Africa completed a remarkable victory.
De Lange, after conceding 33 runs off his first three overs, ended with 2-36 off four overs while Botha was superb as he returned figures of 2-20 off four overs. Morne Morkel finished with 2-31.
New Zealand had looked well in control thanks to an opening stand of 65 off six overs between Rob Nicol (33) and Martin Guptill (26) as both men took advantage of some wayward bowling from the visitors who showed a propensity to bowl too many leg-side deliveries.
Ryder and Brendon McCullum (18) both made useful contributions before New Zealand went into freefall as they lost four wickets for 18 runs after Ryder had brought up his fifty off 37 balls while his entire innings included five fours and two sixes.
Southee and Nicol had earlier shared four wickets as New Zealand restricted South Africa to 165 for seven.
Paceman Southee finished with 2-22 while off-spinner Nicol captured 2-20 as South Africa stumbled to score just 56 runs off the last eight overs of their innings.
South Africa had looked well placed thanks to a 62-run fourth wicket partnership off 5.5 overs between AB de Villiers and JP Duminy.
The left-handed Duminy looked in fine touch in scoring 38 off 20 balls but he was dismissed in unfortunate fashion when De Villiers hammered a delivery straight back to the bowler Nicol who did very well to field the ball before turning and breaking the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Duminy, who was backing up, well out of his ground.
The run out was a sharp piece of work from Nicol who also completed two catches to go with his two wickets.
Duminy departed with the score on 121 for four after 13 overs and De Villiers, who looked to be struggling with a hamstring injury, was out eight runs later when he was bowled by Nicol for 29 off 23 balls.
Wayne Parnell (22 not out) and Robin Peterson (11 not out) added some late impetus to the innings with an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 28.
South Africa, who had been asked to bat on a wicket which had a touch of pace and bounce, had lost wickets at regular intervals as Richard Levi (11), Albie Morkel (10) and Hashim Amla (33) were dismissed inside the first eight overs.
Brendon McCullum (captain), Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, Kane
Williamson, James Franklin, Jesse Ryder, Nathan McCullum, Doug
Bracewell, Kyle Mills, Ronnie Hira, Tim Southee
AB de Villiers (captain), Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Wayne Parnell,
JP Duminy, Justin Ontong, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, Marchant de
Lange, Morne Morkel, Robin Peterson
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney and Gary Baxter, New Zealand
TV Umpire: Barry Frost, New Zealand
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama, Sri Lanka