Doug Bracewell claimed 3 for 31, and Martin Guptill notched up his ninth one-day hundred, as New Zealand leveled the one-day series against South Africa on Sunday at Potchefstroom. South Africa won the toss and decided to bat first, a move that worked to the visitors' advantage. The pitch was more suited to the Kiwis' style of bowling. They took the pace off the ball and managed to generate some reverse swing as well, to stifle the hosts. Farhaan Behardien was the only one who managed to put up some fight for South Africa, but all that did was take the batting side past the 200 mark, which was never going to be enough.
Adam Milne delivered for New Zealand early on, as the South African openers feel the cheaply. Hashim Amla tried to hit out and was caught at third-man. He almost had Rilee Rossouw caught and bowled, but couldn't hold on. In his very next over though he had Morne van Wyk sent back. The struggling bat tried to cut Milne, but only managed to chop one onto his stumps. The loss of wickets was followed by a maiden over by Ben Wheeler. Rossouw, who was lucky to survive, was now joined by skipper AB de Villiers. But, the aggressive duo struggled as well. Rossouw tried to hit Bracewell over mid-off but was caught by Kane Williamson.
David Miller, came in, and had an opportunity to make up for his failures in recent games. But, he had another poor match. Bracewell beat him for pace, and got his leading edge with a rising delivery, that was held at short cover. De Villiers also followed soon after as he was surprised by some extra bounce from Grant Elliott, and ended up being caught at mid-wicket. At the other end, Behardien held one end up for the team. He wasn't completely comfortable but managed to figure out a way to hang around, and give South Africa some semblance of hope. He was lucky as Milne couldn't hold on to return catch from him. He eventually holed out, trying to hit Bracewell down the ground. Before, and after him, there was no resistance.
New Zealand's victory was set up easily as Guptill and Tom Latham added 114 for the opening wicket. This created a record as well, beating New Zealand's previous best opening stand against the Proteas, by Mark Greatbach and Tom's father Rod Latham during the 1992 World Cup. Guptill went on to complete his first one-day hundred against South Africa. De Villiers tried something different, opening the bowling with spin in the form of Aaron Phangiso. But, the move did not work, as Guptill attacked him and picked up four fours early on. He also gave a return catch, but the bowler did not hold on. Dale Steyn and David Wiese also struggled as New Zealand brought up their fifty inside nine overs.
Guptill and Latham cut and drove with confidence against the pacers. The introduction of Imran Tahir managed to put a check on the scoring somewhat. South Africa's fielding however was poor. Guptill's was dropped when on 37, a return catch spilled, then again on 39, as long off could not hold on to a catch. South Africa finally had a wicket, and Tahir got a well-deserved one when Latham top-edged Tahir to Rossouw at deep square leg. However, it wasn't much of a reason for South Africa to celebrate as the game was all but over. Guptill was in a race against time to complete his century. He was on 99, and New Zealand needed just one to win. Luckily, he got a full-toss, which he dispatched over extra-cover boundary to complete his hundred as well Kiwis' series-levelling win.
-- By A Cricket Correspondent