St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - SA’s Late Blitz Buries NZ
SA’s Late Blitz Buries NZ
Neale Emslie

JUSTIN Kemp continued to underline his destructive batting abilities with a brief but explosive innings to help South Africa clinch the Standard Bank one-day cricket series in a sensational finish at Sahara Oval St George’s yesterday.

Chasing 244 to win, the home side again wobbled in the pursuit of victory as the run-rate crept up to 10 an over before Kemp (30 off 19 balls) and Shaun Pollock (21 off 14) blitzed the Black Caps for 42 runs in four overs to get SA home by four wickets with four balls left.

Needing nine to win off the last over, bowled by Shane Bond, Kemp sent the first ball soaring into Park Drive and followed that with a crunching hook to backward square leg for the winning boundary to the undiluted joy of the 13 000-strong crowd.

It was an uncomfortably close call for Graeme Smith’s men, but they continue to show great character to emerge triumphant in tight situations.

Their third straight win of the five-match series means they have left NZ playing for pride in Durban and Centurion.

For NZ, it was again a case of so close, but so far. In all three games, they’ve had genuine chances of victory but have not managed to finish their opponents off.

Yesterday, they posted a competitive total after being sent into bat by Smith and worked hard in the field to stay in contention.

Two brilliant run outs and a wonderful catch by Hamish Marshall to dismiss Herschelle Gibbs, who had batted superbly for 81 off 94 balls, seemed to have put them in control until they failed to contain the stunning final assault by Kemp and Pollock.

At the post-match press conference, Gibbs praised the St George’s pitch, saying it was one of the best pitches he had played on in PE.

“The ball skidded on nicely and it was good for batting,” SA’s man of the match said. Smith endorsed Gibbs’ view and said the players had enjoyed the whole atmosphere at the ground.

“In fact, the last two one-day pitches we’ve had here have been excellent,” said Smith, “and the crowd was superb. The atmosphere was great and a lot of the guys spoke about it.”

While the victory took South Africa’s streak to 12 one-day wins in a row and gave them a measure of revenge for last year’s 5-1 loss, Smith is aware there is room for improvement.

“We’re still about 30 per cent off our best,” he said. “We want to keep getting better, and we want to keep on winning. We want more free flowing scoring – all our batsmen are in good form, we just need to string together some bigger partnerships.”

He said he thought the victory, without Jacques Kallis, showed that South Africa could win without their star player.

“Herschelle batted superbly, and Justin (Kemp) and Shaun (Pollock) were brilliant. We’re growing in confidence, and we are all loving our cricket, and loving playing for South Africa.”

The Herald
October 31, 2005.
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