Fleming-inspired Black Caps stun SA

Mumbai, October 16

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming led from the front as the Black Caps snatched a dramatic 87-run victory over South Africa in the Champions Trophy here on Monday. New Zealand, bowled out for 195 after being given first strike, fought back to dismiss the powerful Proteas for 108 in the most absorbing match of the tournament so far. Man-of-the-match Fleming held New Zealand’s crumbling innings together with a defiant 89, inspiring his team-mates to make a spectacular comeback in the second session.

Seamer Kyle Mills grabbed three wickets with his first 19 deliveries to reduce South Africa to 25-3 by the eighth over. The lanky Jacob Oram then ripped through the middle-order as the Proteas plunged to 71-6, 42 of those runs coming from captain Graeme Smith. Off-spinner Jeetan Patel provided the finishing touches with 3-11 from 3.1 overs as New Zealand made a perfect start in group B that also includes Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Left-handed Fleming, who opened the innings, remained rock-solid even as wickets tumbled around him, before he was ninth out in the 44th over close to his 10th one-day century. Brendon McCullum was the next highest scorer with 21. Fleming defied the South Africans for three hours under the sweltering heat and humidity. South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis finished with 3-28 off seven overs.

Left-arm spinner Robin Peterson picked up 2-34. Veteran seamer Shaun Pollock became the fifth bowler to claim 350 one-day wickets when he bowled Lou Vincent for 17 to end an opening stand of 27. Pollock joined the rare club led by Pakistani Wasim Akram (502 wickets) and followed by Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka (419), Waqar Younis of Pakistan (416) and Sri Lankan Chaminda Vaas (358).

When South Africa batted, Mills struck with the fifth delivery of the innings when he trapped Boeta Dippenaar leg-before. Mills clean bowled Herschelle Gibbs in his second over and took a splendid one-handed return catch in his fourth to remove Kallis.

Oram was smashed for two boundaries by Smith in his first over. But the seamer hit back to have Mark Boucher (8) caught behind, forced the well-settled Smith to spoon a catch to mid-on and then removed Pollock to a catch in the deep. New Zealand next play Sri Lanka here on Friday. South Africa take on the Sri Lankans in Ahmedabad on October 24.

Meanwhile, Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf returned home from India following the death of his mother. Rauf, who was due to be the television umpire on Monday, was replaced by Rudi Koertzen of South Africa. Rauf is unlikely to return for the rest of the tournament which ends on November 5.