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The Christchurch Press Cronje delivers the killer punch
Geoff Longley - 17 February 1999

South Africa struck back with a vengeance, skipper Hansie Cronje sweeping his team to victory to square the BNZ one-day cricket series against New Zealand at Jade Stadium.

Replying to the Black Caps' modest 220 for nine, South Africa was untroubled last night to pass the target after 43 overs, for the loss of just three wickets.

Cronje gave the 17,000 crowd some fireworks with his big hitting, which had been lacking for much of the match, bringing the game to an early conclusion.

Cronje took to Gavin Larsen and Daniel Vettori and, in the space of 10 balls, hammered 32 runs with three fours and three sixes, the biggest of which was a huge hit into the Hadlee stand -- a rare feat at the stadium. That followed a blow on to the No. 4 stand roof.

Despite losing two early wickets, Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis stabilised the side, sharing a 103-run third-wicket stand. Kallis added a half century to the 100 he made in Dunedin, before falling to a dubious leg before wicket decision, while Kirsten recorded his first 50 in 11 innings.

Then Cronje took centre stage, dominating a century stand with man-of-the-match Kirsten, which propelled South Africa to success. He finished with an unbeaten 74 from 69 balls while Kirsten, who fittingly hit the winning runs, scored his unbeaten 81 from 109 balls with 10 fours.

Earlier, New Zealand surprised somewhat after winning the toss and including bowler Simon Doull, but then electing to bat. It made its seemingly customary stuttering start, losing early wickets and slipping to 29 for three in the seventh over before Roger Twose and Adam Parore resurrected the innings. The Black Caps' top order again failed to provide the sort of solid start needed for the side to compile a substantial score.

Twose and Parore righted the nose-dive, Twose playing some sparkling shots square of the wicket while in the midst of an intriguing battle with his former English county (Warwickshire) team-mate and South African speedster Allan Donald.

Twose and Parore lifted the score to 127 for three at the 30-over mark and gave the platform for New Zealand to aim at a tally of around 250.

Jeers for Parore's arrival at the wicket turned to cheers as he added a fourth wicket record against South Africa of 102 with Twose, but fell attempting to play a run shot five balls into the 31st over.

Twose then tended to become becalmed in the 70s, facing 27 balls in that region before chipping out with the job not quite done, his 78 coming from 123 balls with seven fours.

It was his second consecutive half-century for New Zealand in a one-day match, following his 63 against India.

Chris Harris supplied the Black Caps with his almost expected end of innings impetus, striking an unbeaten 45 from 46 balls with two fours and three sixes, one a thumping blow over mid-on from Shaun Pollock. He and Donald were the visitors' most successful bowlers.

The third one-day match is in Auckland on Saturday.

Meanwhile, New Zealand cricket captain Stephen Fleming will definitely not play in the first test against South Africa in Auckland, starting on Saturday week. Fleming had hopes of being fit for the match after recovering from the groin surgery he had a month ago.

He had hoped to play for Canterbury in its Shell Trophy match against Wellington starting today but, as he could not make that deadline, it left him without any meaningful match-play before the test begins on February 27.

Fleming's next possible outing could be a home game for Canterbury against Auckland on the same day the test starts.

The chairman of the New Zealand selectors, Ross Dykes, said the loss of Fleming and Chris Cairns through injury, enabled less experienced players to make a name for themselves.

Source: The Christchurch Press
Editorial comments can be sent to The Christchurch Press at press@press.co.nz