New Zealand came out on top in a low-scoring thriller at Boland Park in Paarl as South Africa fell to a one-wicket loss in the first One-Day International of the three-match series on Saturday (January 19). Chasing 209 after choosing to field, New Zealand were undone by the South African pacemen for the most part, before a couple of late partnerships and a stunning finish by James Franklin led them to a famous win.
New Zealand started off miserably, and were two down in two overs, losing Rob Nicol (4) and Martin Guptill (0), the openers, with just four runs on board. Kane Williamson (5) didn't last long either and New Zealand struggling at 21 for three. However, BJ Watling and Brendon McCullum resisted, putting up 52 for the fourth wicket.
Scoring at just over five runs an over, they took the total to 73, inclusive of Brendon McCullum's six off Ryan McLaren. The stand ended when Rory Kleinveldt's inswinger trapped Brendon McCullum leg before, although when the batsman asked the umpire for a review, he had to walk on without one as the lack of power resources at the ground meant all referral tools couldn't be used.
With the stand broken, wickets started to fall again. Grant Elliot (1) became Kleinveldt's second but Watling and Franklin added 24 for the sixth wicket to defy the increasingly dominating South Africa. The stand didn't last long as Watling, having made a battling 45, inside-edged McLaren on to his stumps.
Nathan McCullum and Franklin then added 35 for the eighth wicket, but it was Kyle Mills and his association with Franklin, who was involved in yet another partnership, which gave New Zealand hope. Putting up 47 for the ninth wicket, the two reduced South Africa to desperation. While there were some big hits, including Mills's hammered six down the ground, most of the runs came through quick singles, which, importantly, kept the scoreboard ticking.
Just when it seemed New Zealand would pull off a great escape, the stand was broken with just 22 needed, as Mills had his middle-stump dislodged by McLaren after having made 26 off 40. It was then that Franklin, who had been timid up until then, decided to up the ante. There were two consecutive boundaries off Dale Steyn, which left New Zealand needing 11 more. After some quick singles, he lifted McLaren over the wicketkeeper to leave New Zealand with four to win.
With just a wicket left though, South Africa were always in it. But Franklin sealed a famous win with another four off McLaren, finishing with 47 in 61 balls, allowing New Zealand to bask in glory.
Earlier, Mitchell McClenaghan justified the selectors' faith in him by returning figures of 4 for 20 - the best by a New Zealand bowler on ODI debut - while Kane Williamson, with his part-time off-spin, picked up four wickets as well, with South Africa ending their innings on 208.
It didn't start well for New Zealand as Rob Nicol dropped Graeme Smith at first slip in the first over bowled by Kyle Mills. But with Hashim Amla (13) playing an uncharacteristically ugly shot to go leg before to Mills in the fifth over, things changed. Smith (7) was out leg before to McClenaghan, followed by AB de Villiers (7) going the same way to the same bowler as South Africa slipped to 37 for three.
Colin Ingram and Faf du Plessis stabilised things somewhat, even though Ingram, batting at No. 3 after Jacques Kallis was left out of the series, looked uncomfortable. But just as they looked like they had taken South Africa to safety and were settling in for the long haul, Williamson struck. Ingram (29) tried to clear the legside with a sweep and McCullum ran back to take a sharp catch over his shoulder for New Zealand's fourth wicket.
James Franklin turned up to send back Quinton de Kock (18), the debutant, and then Williamson got his second scalp as he induced an edge from Ryan McLaren (33) to Brendon McCullum.
Du Plessis, however, was batting in the same vein of form that has seen him make such a splash in Test cricket in recent times. He took his time and didn't try anything flashy, but despite hitting just three boundaries, his 57 came off just 72 balls. He finally fell to Williamson though, South Africa slipped to 182 for eight.
Kleinveldt then slammed three sixes and a four in an entertaining 20-ball 26 to take the total past 200, which eventually gave South Africa something to defend. As it turned out, they almost had the win before Franklin set off the fireworks.