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SA all but eliminated from World Cup as Williamson too good

The New Zealand skipper played a masterfully paced innings that included nine fours and one six as he dragged his team beyond the Proteas score of 241/6.

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson. Picture: cricketworldcup.com

BIRMINGHAM - South Africa’s World Cup hopes are in ruin after New Zealand’s Kane Williamson’s 103 not-out off 138 balls secured a tense 4 wicket victory for the Black Caps at Edgbaston.

The New Zealand skipper played a masterfully paced innings that included nine fours and one six as he dragged his team beyond the Proteas score of 241/6.

That total never looked like it would be enough as the New Zealand bowlers routinely pegged back the South African batters. Lockie Ferguson was the destroyer in chief with 3/59 from 10 overs but tight lines and full attacking lengths meant the Proteas never ran away with it and were at least 25 runs short.

Rassie van der Dussen was the standout performer in green with the bat as he struck an unbeaten 67 from 64 balls but failures to convert from promising starts again proved the undoing for the Proteas.

Hashim Amla became the fourth South African to pass 8,000 ODI runs but struggled for every one of his 55 off 83 balls. Faf du Plessis (23 off 35), Aiden Markram (38 off 55) and David Miller (36 off 37) all chipped in but did not put up a game changing contribution.

The same cannot be said of Williamson who underlined his pedigree with a near faultless display. He hardly put a foot wrong and kept his cool when the chase threatened to derail at the other end.

Kagiso Rabada (1/42 from 10 overs) has not been at his fiery best throughout the tournament but had the breakthrough in the third over after a smart caught and bowled to remove Colin Munro.

Williamson joined opener Martin Guptill (35 off 59) and put on 60 runs for the second wicket before a stroke of good fortune opened the game up.

Andile Phehlukwayo (1/70 from 8.3 overs) dug one in short which was swatted away by Guptill but not before the batsman trod on his own stumps. Momentum shifted and a searing spell of fast bowling by Chris Morris (3/49 from 10 overs) soon had New Zealand reeling at 80/4 after he had Ross Taylor caught down the leg side and Tom Latham caught behind off the outside edge for 1 apiece.

Williamson again had to steady the ship and he did exactly that with a 57 run partnership with James Neesham (23 off 34) until Morris had his third wicket in the 33rd over. Neesham caught at slip by Amla cutting at a ball that was too close to do so.

Colin de Grandhomme was miserly with the ball, sending down ten overs worth 1/33, and followed that up with a belligerent 60 off 47 balls with the bat. Though the Zimbabwean born de Grandhomme would fall in the penultimate over, caught in the deep off Lungi Ngidi (1/47 from 10 overs), his 91 run partnership with Williamson proved decisive.
The game went down to the final over but with just 8 to defend, Phehlukwayo was always the underdog. Facing the second ball of the over, Williamson heaved a mighty six over cow corner to bring up his hundred before dapping away the next through third man to secure the win

South Africa are not mathematically out of the equation for a semi-final spot. Rain might still play a factor and certain results could mean they sneak in through the back door.

But that seems unlikely now. Barring a miracle, another heartbreaking result at Edgbaston, the venue of that infamous tied semi-final against Australia 20 years ago, means the quest for a maiden World Cup title looks set to continue for another four years at least.

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