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Morne Morkel and Hashim Amla played key roles in South Africa’s six-wicket obliteration of New Zealand in the second ODI in Napier.
However, more importantly, the win handed the South Africans the series, so far in which they have looked at their most impressive.
Morkel, who was awarded the Man of the Match award, for crushing the heart of the New Zealand batting lineup with his five wickets. He also had an opportunity to take a hat-trick twice but was unlucky not to be rewarded. “I’m very grateful I can put in that kind of performance for the team. I was surprised by the pace and bounce in the wicket, and it’s going well for me at the moment” he said.
South Africa shocked everybody at the toss, when they elected to bowl, on a wicket which has a first inning average of 309 for batting. New Zealand seemed determined to prove that South Africa had made a grievous mistake with a 107 run partnership between Martin Guptill and Captain Brendon McCullum.
Guptill and McCullum, however, were to be the only bright spots of New Zealand’s batsmen. Guptill played a sensible knock of 58, while McCullum, blitzed his way to 85 runs off only 96 deliveries, which included 11 boundaries and two massive sixes.
When McCullum was dismissed, with the score standing at 175 for the loss of four wickets, Morne Morkel took over and removed New Zealand batsmen one after another, much to the astonishment of the Napier crowd.
Tim Southee, realising the deep hole that New Zealand were in, came and and delivered some last minute entertainment, scoring 28 runs from only 27 balls, en route to New Zealand’s under par score of 230.
Morkel was well supported by Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who picked up three key wickets to edge the momentum in South Africa’s favour.
Facing a relatively straightforward target of 231 to win, South Africa were dealt a major blow, when Jacques Kallis was caught behind for only four runs.
But, after the early loss, South Africa buckled down, as opener Amla and Francois du Plessis, put together a healthy 69 run partnership, before du Plessis was removed.
Amla, who looked strong from the beginning of the innings, was attributed to another partnership, worth 87 runs with Jean Paul Duminy.
However, Amla fell eight agonising runs short of his century, when he was edged the ball to wicketkeeper McCullum, but by the time he was out, South Africa already had the game within their grasps.
Tarun Nethula picked up the wickets of Amla and Duminy, both of which were important, but in the end, coming too late in the game.
New Zealand Captain Brendon McCullum, was visibly frustrated with the collapse of the batting lineup. “8 for 60-odd is not acceptable. We need to have a good hard look at our game, 300 would have been competitive. It was definitely a 300 wicket, they were able to steal the momentum from us in the middle stages” he said.
South African Captain AB de Villiers, who was pleased with the all round team performance, especially with Morkel and Amla, said: “We played consistently well today, Morne bowled exceptionally for us and set the trend. Morne just wickets at the right time for us. Always nice when someone starts well up the order like Amla this time, he made it easy for the middle order.”
With the series win, New Zealand will be gunning to win the last ODI at Auckland on the 3rd of March, in order to salvage some pride and give them some confidence going into the test series. South Africa, on the other hand, will be hoping for a whitewash and continuing their red-hot streak in the tests.