S Africa beat NZ in uninspiring display

South Africa endure an under-par performance with the bat and still overcome New Zealand by a single run in the World Twenty20 at Lord's.

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LONDON // South Africa endured an under-par performance with the bat and still overcame New Zealand by a single run in the World Twenty20 at Lord's. The two sides somehow stage-managed a nerve-racking finish despite a largely uninspiring match played out on a slowing wicket. The previews had had this down as being a game for the thrill-seekers, but it never threatened to be anything like. South Africa's innings spluttered along at a tepid rate. Their travails were summed up by their captain, Graeme Smith, who can usually muscle the ball great distances when he is on song. He could barely work it off the square here, mustering a mere 33 from 35 balls, which is a sedentary rate for a player of his class in this version of the game. New Zealand's two least experienced bowlers, Ian Butler (2-13 from four) and Nathan McCullum (one for 18 from four) benefited most from South Africa's lethargy, but it was the Black Caps' fielding which most caught the eye. The have fair claims for being regarded as the best fielding side in the world. Martin Guptill, the precocious newcomer, provided the most striking evidence when he ran out the fleet-footed AB de Villiers with a direct hit from the long-on boundary. New Zealand hardly hurried their reply. They went about their chase using the old-fashioned limited-overs method of keeping wickets in hand. With Brendon McCullum, their stand-in captain, enjoying a long vigil, they felt they always had the requisite firepower. However, after he went for a relatively slow half-century, New Zealand's late middle-order were left with much to do. After Dale Steyn had put the break on the big hitting Jacob Oram, it was left to Wayne Parnell, the teenaged left-arm seam bowler, to keep them to under 15 from the last for the win. He just managed it, as South Africa sealed the win with the run out of Oram on the final delivery. pradley@thenational.ae