Fleming grinds out top score

Nathan Astle

Nathan Astle combined with Fleming © Getty Images

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming described his match-winning innings which set up victory over South Africa in their opening ICC Champions Trophy match as a "grind".

The 33-year-old struck 89 off 112 balls in his side's total of 195 at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium before his bowlers did the rest of the work in the 87-run win.

"It was a bit of a grind," Fleming said.

"We didn't know what type of game it would be or whether the dew would play a part so we had to get a score on the board that would give us a chance. We felt around 200 would do that."

Fleming lost the toss but his knock did enough to give his bowling attack - shorn of injured pair Shane Bond and Scott Styris - something to defend under the floodlights and they dismissed South Africa for 108.

Of the pitch, Fleming added: "It deteriorated, there's no doubt about that. Even in James Franklin's first spell some of the balls were going through the top. We knew it would be tough but we kept taking wickets."

South Africa captain Graeme Smith top-scored with 42, while Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram took three wickets each before the spin of Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel completed the job.

Smith believes the defeat put pressure on his side to perform in their remaining two Group B matches, against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, if they are to reach the semi-finals.

"We can always improve but I don't think we did anything hugely wrong," said Smith.

"It was our first one-day game of the year and there are certainly areas to look at.

"Batting second wasn't easy but we cannot make excuses, we've just got to go back and look at the next two games.

"There are a few teams in the same position, and two wins out of three can get you through so they become important games."

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