Tue | Jul 16, 2019

Williamson leads Kiwis to win over Proteas

Published:Thursday | June 20, 2019 | 12:14 AM
South Africa’s bowler Lungi Ngidi (middle) reacts as New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson (right) takes runs during their ICC World Cup match at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham, yesterday.
South Africa’s bowler Lungi Ngidi (middle) reacts as New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson (right) takes runs during their ICC World Cup match at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham, yesterday.

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP):

Kane Williamson hit a six in the last over to reach his century and followed it up with a boundary to give New Zealand a four-wicket victory over South Africa with three balls to spare Wednesday in the closest finish of the ICC World Cup so far.

New Zealand went into the last over at 234-6 and chasing 242 for victory. Andile Phehlukwayo’s first ball was sent for a single by Mitchell Santner, sensibly giving Williamson the strike, and the New Zealand captain immediately took his chance with a powerful six.

Williamson finished 106 not out off 138 balls as New Zealand reached 245-6 in a match reduced to 49 overs each innings.

He called it “a great game of cricket on a surface that was tough for both sides”.

The win moved New Zealand atop the standings and effectively put an end to South Africa’s chances of reaching the play-offs.

“I’m feeling five years older. My body is really sore after that,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. “We left everything out there, and that’s all I can ask for as a captain that the guys fought.”

So did Williamson, who was brilliantly supported and occasionally overshadowed by Colin de Grandhomme, who smashed a 47-ball 60, with five fours and two sixes. De Grandhomme impatiently holed out to du Plessis at long-off to a delivery from Lungi Ngidi at the start of the penultimate over — the 48th — while going for his third six.

Despite the late stress caused by that dismissal, Williamson was keen to praise his teammate.

“The partnership and the knock from Colin was outstanding in terms of swinging that momentum, and he hit the ball beautifully,” Williamson said.

Williamson and de Grandhomme joined with the total at 137-5 in reply to South Africa’s 241-6 off 49 overs, and their partnership was crucial in guiding New Zealand to its fourth win of the tournament.

The Black Caps now have nine points, one clear of top-ranked England and defending champions Australia. At the other end of the table, South Africa are almost certainly out of contention — in the first major shock of the 2019 edition — with only three points from six games.