Oram shines as Black Caps progress
Jacob Oram came to the rescue as New Zealand advanced to the semi-finals of the World Cup, but South Africa’s woes in this competition continued in Mirpur.
The one-day specialist failed to produce the goods with the bat but he redeemed himself in spectacular style by taking 4-39 as well as two magnificent catches to help the Black Cats to an improbable 49-run victory and a last-four clash with either Sri Lanka or England.
The Proteas’ frailties in this tournament have been well-documented but they are unlikely to subside as, after falling to a six-run defeat to England in Group B when chasing 172, they collapsed yet again and still have the unwanted record of never having a won a knockout match.
South Africa looked on course for a routine triumph after restricting Daniel Vettori’s men to 221 for eight with a near-flawless performance in the field before reaching 108 for two after 24 overs of their innings, but their run-chase was undermined by wickets falling at regular intervals.
Captain Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Francois du Plessis all made starts but no one could go on to a big score - as Jesse Ryder had done for New Zealand with an impressive knock of 83 - and it was to prove their downfall as they were all out for 172.
Black Caps skipper Vettori, who returned to the line-up after missing the last two group games with strained knee ligaments, had demanded a strong performance from the top order in his pre-match press conference yesterday.
He must have despaired when South Africa made a dream start with the ball. Robin Peterson took four wickets here in the last match against Bangladesh and it was he who made the breakthrough in the third over.
The left-arm spinner took a splendid diving catch off his own bowling when Brendon McCullum, attempting to flick the left-arm spinner through midwicket, produced a leading edge after coming down the track.
Martin Guptill followed soon after when he was deceived by a Dale Steyn slower ball and skied a catch to Johan Botha, who ran round from mid-off to leave New Zealand 16 for two.
However, Ryder and Ross Taylor combined to put on an a third-wicket partnership of 114, with the former bringing up his first World Cup half-century in 70 balls.
The powerful left-hander flattered to deceive in the group stages with a series of low scores, and, although his first boundary of the morning was a streaky inside edge, he showed controlled aggression thereafter.
Ryder did take advantage of some wayward bowling from Morne Morkel at the beginning of his innings but, in general, he and Taylor went about their business in a cautious manner and New Zealand did not reach three figures until the 28th over.
The in-form Taylor, who showed his attacking capabilities with a fine century against Pakistan in the group stages, tried to force the initiative by launching Peterson over midwicket for six in the 32nd over.
He tried to repeat the trick off Imran Tahir a couple of overs later but, this time, his slog sweep was caught in the deep by Kallis, leaving him seven runs shy of a half-century.
Scott Styris showed plenty of intent and hit three fours during his during his 17-ball 16, but he dragged onto his stumps after trying to hit Morkel over the top in the 38th over.
Ryder’s 121-ball stay was then ended as he perished in a similar vein to Taylor, holing out to substitute fielder Colin Ingram off Tahir, to leave the Black Caps in danger of collapsing.
Nathan McCullum, Oram and Vettori all departed for single-figure scores, but Kane Williamson steadied the ship to ensure New Zealand posted a competitive total with a knock of 38 from 41 balls, which included one boundary and a sweetly-struck maximum over long-off from Peterson’s bowling.
South Africa’s reply got off to the worst possible start when Hashim Amla was dismissed off the last ball of the first over in bizarre circumstances.
Nathan McCullum’s delivery was edged on to brother Brendon’s boot before careering into the hands of Daniel Vettori at slip.
However, Kallis joined captain Graeme Smith in the middle and they effortlessly helped South Africa to 50 for one after the first 10 overs.
Although the bowling powerplay was taken immediately, the run-rate began to drop and Smith, perhaps trying to release some pressure, cut a wide Oram delivery to substitute fielder Jamie How at backward point to fall for 28.
Nevertheless, Kallis and De Villiers, soldiered on before the former looked to launch Tim Southee over the top, only for Oram to take a magnificent catch running round from deep square leg.
There was no cause for panic as the next batsman was JP Duminy, who averages a shade over 37 in ODI’s, but two quick wickets in the 28th over changed the entire complexion of the encounter.
First left-hander Duminy, trying to cut through the off side, was bowled by Nathan McCullum then dangerman De Villiers was run out when Francois Du Plessis had called for a risky single after he clipped the ball to Guptill at midwicket.
The writing was on the wall for the South Africans when Botha and Peterson departed to Oram, who then dived forward to catch Steyn at point off McCullum.
Any slim hopes of victory vanished when Oram saw off Du Plessis and Luke Woodcock wrapped up the win after Morkel hit straight to How at long-off.