Taylor ton snaps Protea streak

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New Zealand drew level in the ongoing ODI series as they survived a potential heist by South Africa’s tail and claim victory by just six runs, in a final-over thriller in Christchurch.

It was a match that well and truly could have gone either way as South Africa put on 65 quick runs for the ninth wicket in pursuit of 290 runs.

Man-of-the-match Ross Taylor (102 not out) set up a substantial score as he struck a stylish and well-executed century. In doing so he became New Zealand’s leading ODI century-maker and also was the quickest Black Cap to 6000 runs.

This was New Zealand’s tenth ODI at the charming Hagley Oval and a surprising nine of those matches have now been won by the side that lost the toss. South Africa won the toss today and chose to field first, which was perhaps a surprising move on a wicket that was on the slow side.

Today marked exactly six years since the earthquake that claimed 185 lives in this city and the full house stood for a chilling minute of silence before the first ball was bowled.

New Zealand named an unchanged side but South Africa gave caps to David Miller, Wayne Parnell and Dwaine Pretorious. Ferhaan Behardien, Tabraiz Shamzi and Kagiso Rabada (knee niggle) sat out.

Tom Latham’s (2 runs) slump continued as he was out early and the selectors’ will likely lose faith in as he has not managed double figures in his last five outings. It is understood that Martin Guptill will be available for the third ODI in Wellington on Saturday.

New Zealand recovered well from that setback as Williamson (69) and Taylor turned over the strike with ease and put on 104 runs for the third wicket. Two quick wickets pegged them back to 166 for four but Jimmy Neesham (71 off only 57 deliveries) then joined Taylor in the middle and the pair added 123 runs – a record for the fifth wicket against South Africa.

The Black Caps only lost four wickets in their innings and the pick of the bowlers was undoubtedly Pretorious (2-40) as he his accurate bowling up half the scalps and conceded only four runs per over.

In reply South Africa were off to a shaky start when Hashim Amla (10) was trapped in front by Trent Boult (3-63) and Faf du Plessis (11) was clean bowled through the gate by Colin de Grandhomme. JP Duminy (34) was promoted to number four and he and Quinton de Kock (57) put on 57 runs for the third wicket. Duminy then missed one from Santner as he went dancing down the track and was stumped and de Kock holed out in the deep on the leg side. Miller (28) helped de Villiers (45) to rebuild but when both were dismissed in soft fashion just a handful of runs apart, the home crowd roared in the knowledge that the chase now looked stiff.

When Morris (7) was run out backing up with a little too much zeal and Parnell (0) failed to trouble the scorers, the wheels had well and truly come off with the score on 214 for eight in the 42nd over.

What happened next was remarkable. Andile Phehlukwayo (29) joined Pretorious (50 off 27) in a heroic effort to snatch a highly unlikely defeat. Pretorious is known to hold a bat properly and boasts a first-class average of over 40 and the pair of them took things very close indeed as they kept out the good balls and struck many bad ones to the fence.

Pretorious was bowled with the final ball of the 49th over and Phehlukwayo simply wasn’t up the task of managing 15 off the last, with only Imran Tahir for company. He got bat on ball on the first four deliveries of the over but did not trust Tahir enough to run the easy singles. Boundaries came in vain off the final two balls of the innings but it was too late – New Zealand were already celebrating a famous victory that broke South Africa’s run of 12 consecutive ODI wins on the bounce.

By Nicholas Sadleir