Fleming leads Kiwis to win
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming led by example in Mumbai as he built a platform for his bowlers to dismiss South Africa and claim a 87-run victory in their opening ICC Champions Trophy match.
The 33-year-old opener struck a considered 89 off 112 balls as wickets fell around him in the Kiwis’ effort of 195 after losing the toss at the Brabourne Stadium.
He fell 11 short of a century but 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.
Kyle Mills accounted for the first three wickets, firstly trapping Boeta Dippenaar lbw with the fifth ball of the innings to reduce the Proteas to one wicket for one run.
Herschelle Gibbs, who was questioned by Indian police about match-fixing allegations last week, only lasted two balls before Mills found a way through his defences and onto the stumps.
Mills, 27, completed his treble by taking a sharp return catch off Jacques Kallis, who was celebrating his 31st birthday and also took three wickets in New Zealand’s innings.
Jacob Oram forced catches for the next three wickets to fall, including that of Proteas skipper Graeme Smith after he had top-scored with 42.
After Oram had also dismissed Mark Boucher and Shaun Pollock, South Africa were reduced to 71 for six.
The spin of Jeetan Patel and Daniel Vettori eked out the remaining wickets to give New Zealand a winning start in their Champions Trophy campaign.
South Africa’s target would have been significantly lower but for Fleming.
It was an innings of application from the Kiwi, particularly as Pollock opened the attack with typical economy in his six-over spell.
Opener Lou Vincent (right) had gone over the top to a degree of success facing Makhaya Ntini but was bowled by Pollock as wicket-keeper Boucher stood up to the stumps.
Vincent was on the back foot and was cut in half by Pollock, bringing up the bowler’s 350th one-day international wicket.
Nathan Astle came to the crease and took New Zealand past the 50-run mark, bringing it up with consecutive boundaries off Andre Nel.
Andrew Hall replaced Ntini at the other end and yorked Astle in the 17th over as the batsman charged down the wicket, while Nel accounted for Hamish Marshall in similar fashion soon after.
Peter Fulton did not last long either, edging behind in Kallis’ first over, then South Africa skipper Smith turned to spin in an attempt to frustrate New Zealand.
Oram offered a bat-pad catch off Robin Peterson, who also caught Brendon McCullum off his own bowling to bring an end to a cameo of 21 runs off just 34 balls.
Vettori was caught behind off the spin of Smith before Kallis was brought back into the attack to dismiss James Franklin and Fleming. Patel was run out to end the innings.