BIRMINGHAM: Kane Williamson produced a classy innings to lead New Zealand to a tense four-wicket victory against South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday, all but ending the Proteas’ World Cup semi-final hopes.

The Black Caps’ skipper kept his cool at the end of a nerve-jangling match that went down to the last over with eight still required, hoisting Andile Phehlukwayo for a huge six over midwicket to bring up a majestic century.

He sliced the next ball for four as New Zealand reached their target of 242 with three balls to spare in a match reduced to 49 overs due to a wet outfield.

Williamson was helped by Colin de Grandhomme’s superb 60 off 47 balls on a tricky pitch after the Kiwis had slipped to 137 for five.

Earlier, Williamson rode his luck when South Africa failed to review his edge on 76 that was taken by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off the bowling of Imran Tahir.

The win puts New Zealand on top of the 10-team table in the round-robin phase of the competition in England and Wales while South Africa are third from bottom after just one win in six matches.

“It’s nice to be there at the end,” said man-of-the-match Williamson, who finished on 106 not out. “We knew at half time it was a tough surface.

“I thought the first half was a really good effort from us but we knew at the halfway stage it was far from done. We lost a few unfortunate wickets mixed in with some really nice bowling from South Africa.”

Earlier, Martin Guptill, who had been guiding New Zealand towards their target with a minimum of fuss, trod on his stumps to spark a mini collapse.

The batsman, on 35, pulled Phehlukwayo and ended up swivelling, only to lose his balance and clip his leg stump with his foot.

Two overs later New Zealand slipped to 74-3 when Ross Taylor tickled a Chris Morris leg-side delivery and De Kock took the catch behind the stumps.

Tom Latham’s dismissal left them struggling at 80-4.

Jimmy Neesham (23) steadied the ship with his skipper but when he was out, New Zealand were back in trouble.

De Grandhomme came to New Zealand’s rescue, batting positively and bringing up his fifty off 39 balls but he was caught in the deep for 60 by South Africa captain Faf du Plessis off Lungi Ngidi in the penultimate over.

Despite the late drama, Williamson kept his cool to see the beaten 2015 finalists home.

STANDINGS

(Tabulated under played, won, lost, no-result, points, net run-rate):

New Zealand 5 4 0 1 9 +1.591

England 5 4 1 0 8 +1.862

Australia 5 4 1 0 8 +0.812

India 4 3 0 1 7 +1.029

Bangladesh 5 2 2 1 5 -0.027

SriLanka 5 1 2 2 4 -1.778

West Indies 5 1 3 1 3 +0.272

South Africa 6 1 4 1 3 -0.193

Pakistan 5 1 3 1 3 -1.933

Afghanistan 5 0 5 0 0 -2.089

Scoreboard

NEW ZEALAND:

Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

M.J. Guptill hit wicket b Phehlukwayo 35 59 5 0 59.32

C. Munro c and b Rabada 9 5 2 0 180.00

K.S. Williamson not out 106 138 9 1 76.81

L.R.P.L. Taylor c de Kock b Morris 1 2 0 0 50.00

T.W.M. Latham c de Kock b Morris 1 4 0 0 25.00

J.D.S. Neesham c Amla b Morris 23 34 3 0 67.64

C. de Grandhomme c du Plessis b Ngidi 60 47 5 2 127.65

M.J. Santner not out 2 3 0 0 66.66

EXTRAS: (LB-1, W-6, NB-1) 8 — — — —

TOTAL: (for six wkts, 48.3 overs) 245 — — — —

FALL OF WKTS: 1-12 (Munro, 1.2 ov), 2-72 (Guptill, 14.6 ov), 3-74 (Taylor, 16.1 ov), 4-80 (Latham, 18.1 ov), 5-137 (Neesham, 32.2 ov), 6-229 (de Grandhomme, 47.1 ov).

DID NOT BAT: M.J. Henry, L.H. Ferguson, T.A. Boult.

BOWLING: Rabada 10-0-42-1 (1w); Ngidi 10-1-47-1 (2w); Morris 10-0-49-3; Phehlukwayo 8.3-0-73-1 (1nb, 3w); Imran Tahir 10-0-33-0.

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Kane Williamson.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019