Nel Powers South Africa Home In Tight Finish
New Zealand 248 for 6 (How 90) v
249 for 8 (De Villiers 87, Mills 5-25) in Durban
South Africa won by 2 wickets and lead the series 1-0
Two boundaries in two balls from unlikely batting hero Andre Nel gave South Africa a tense two-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first one-day international in Durban, despite a fine bowling effort by the Kiwis, led by Kyle Mills, who took five wickets and following a superb half-century from AB De Villiers.
Mills' spell of five for 25 from his ten overs were in vain as South Africa, faced with 11 to win from the final over, then needed nine from three before Nel unleashed two thunderbolts through cover off of Mark Gillespie before hitting the winning run from the last ball.
Mills exploited early bounce and movement in the pitch to reduce South Africa to nine for two and he returned late on to take the wickets of Shaun Pollock, Albie Morkel and Johan Botha.
Mills clean bowled Morne Van Wyk for a duck before a rising delivery to Jacques Kallis saw the right-hander edge to Ross Taylor at slip for one.
Graeme Smith and AB De Villiers added a cautious partnership of 91 to rebuild the innings before Smith was caught on the boundary for 44.
De Villiers reached his 11th one-day international century with his wicket becoming ever more valuable for the New Zealanders with each run he scored. He gave Ross Taylor a tough chance early on which was spilled and it took a superb caught and bowled from Dan Vettori to eventually send him on his way for 87.
He and Jean-Paul Duminy (46) added 72 for the fourth wicket, the fall of which left South Africa much work to do, but far from out of the game.
Duminy, Pollock (six) and Morkel (nought) all fell to catches in the deep as they fought to keep South Africa's run rate up before Morkel was brilliantly caught by Brendon McCullum diving low to his left.
Earlier, Jamie How scored 90 as New Zealand finally put together a decent batting effort as they posted 248 for six.
South Africa won the toss and elected to field, giving New Zealand's reshuffled batting line up the chance to impress. Lou Vincent fell for six, bowled by Makhaya Ntini, but McCullum scored 40 in sharing a stand of 72 with the impressive How.
How helped New Zealand past 100 in quick time, reaching his third half-century in the 29th over sharing 75 with Scott Styris (40) to set a platform for the Kiwis.
How pulled and drove brilliantly, before late contributions from Taylor (20) and Mathew Sinclair (32 not out) helped New Zealand after Nel removed both How and Gareth Hopkins (nought) in the 48th over.
Onlookers didn't know it, but Nel's contribution with the ball faded in comparison with a crucial unbeaten ten he would score with the bat at the death. He took full advantage of Scott Styris putting down a tough chance from the second ball of the final over to put South Africa 1-0 up in the three-match series.
© Cricket World 2007