An 84-run partnership between AB de Villiers and Wayne Parnell carried the Proteas to 271-8 in the third ODI against New Zealand.
In the end, given the slow outfield and slow surface of the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, the Proteas will probably be quite satisfied with this total. With the start that Quinton de Kock gave them, 300 looked on the cards, but when they were restricted to 180-6, 250 then seemed unlikely.
It would be the skipper to lift them out of trouble. The first box to tick was the five runs he needed to become the fastest to 9 000 ODI runs in history. He achieved the feat 23 innings quicker than Sourav Ganguly, aptly reminding everyone of just how special a player he is.
Then came the 51st ODI fifty for the 33-year-old, before a late surge, aided superbly by Parnell, got them to a competitive total.
Taking strike after winning the toss, De Kock was in fine form. His partner at the other end, Hashim Amla, was not. While De Kock was hitting boundaries, Amla was struggling to find his feet. A couple of plays and misses led to a leading edge off Tim Southee to depart for seven.
A useful 73-run stand then followed between De Kock and Faf du Plessis as they kept the run rate ticking over five an over, but Colin De Grandhomme took the sting out of the assault with two quick strikes in the 23rd over. His relentless line and length, bowling just over 120km/h, built up some pressure and it proved the end of Du Plessis for 36, and De Kock for 68 three balls later.
The wickets continued to fall regularly as the middle order failed to chip in. JP Duminy’s questionable run of form continued as he was run out for 16 off 34 balls, before Mitchell Saunter saw off David Miller for three. Dwaine Pretorius, nearly the hero on Wednesday, couldn’t repeat his heroics with a run-a-ball 11.
That’s when Parnell dug down with De Villiers. A bit of rebuilding then led to the pair opening their arms as the boundaries came quite frequently in the last five overs. The captain had a century in his sights in the last over, only to find Jamie Neesham on the boundary with four balls remaining, to fall for 85 off 80 balls.
Parnell was run out on the final delivery, closing the innings on a well-played 35 off 32 balls.
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