Wednesday 13 December 2017

Oram leads Kiwis into semis after South Africa choke again

Abdul Khan

IT was so predictable and yet nobody really expected it to happen. South Africa, widely hailed as the World Cup tournament's most complete side, tumbled out of the competition yesterday at the hands of New Zealand.

In one way it was a stunning result; in another a continuation of the Proteas' dismal World Cup record -- they have now lost all their knockout matches in this competition since returning to the international fold in 1992. They face four more years of being labelled chokers.

But if this was an agonising quarter-final defeat for South Africa -- and whichever way you cut it, it was -- it was another famous win for the Kiwis, who seem to save their best for the World Cup. Their hero was Jacob Oram, later named the man of the match. He took two brilliant catches and captured 4-39 with his naggingly accurate medium pace after the South Africans appeared to be cruising to victory in pursuit of a modest target of 222.


South Africa captain Graeme Smith was understandably grim-faced afterwards. His side's defeat is hard to explain: they have the best all-rounder in Jacques Kallis, the best new-ball partnership in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and the best side in the field.

"There's no words to describe how I feel," said Smith "We just have to take it on the chin. It's been a very disappointing evening. We kept them to 221, which is very gettable and we just needed to keep our composure."

South Africa had reached 108-2 shortly before the halfway point with Kallis well set on 47. But Kallis was magnificently caught on the boundary by Oram off Tim Southee, JP Duminy was bowled for three and AB de Villiers run out two balls later for 35 by an extraordinary stop and throw by Martin Guptill.

New Zealand piled on the pressure with Oram taking two more quick wickets. Faf du Plessis, who was dropped by Oram on 29, hit the New Zealander for six off the next ball before holing out to Southee for 36. Morkel (3) was the last to fall as South Africa collapsed for 172 off 43.2 overs.

New Zealand will face the winners of today's quarter-final in Colombo between Sri Lanka and England on Tuesday with confidence flowing after such an unlikely victory.

Sri Lanka v England,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.30

Irish Independent

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