South Africa won the toss and batted. This was not because the conditions dictated that; it was obvious it would swing. The had all the appearance of a decision based on avoiding batting second given the two losses earlier in the tournament, and that reputation that gets whispered loudly.
And they could have lost two wickets inside the first three overs. The Boult catch in the deep would’ve been Sinclair-like miraculous, but Ronchi would be disappointed with his spill.
Unlike with Guptill on Saturday, they weren’t overly costly. After eight overs South Africa was 31/2 and the four slips and a gully field was in operation. New Zealand was desperate to get De Villiers in with a new ball, cloud cover and a booming crowd.
Du Plessis and Rossouw survived that period, and then we got into one of those middle-over accumulation phases that have been rare in this World Cup. An 83 run partnership caused New Zealand to test Williamson and Elliott out at the bowling crease.
But then Corey Anderson was introduced and, once again, got a wicket in his first over.
This brought former hockey player, sprinter, golfer and swimmer AB de Villiers to the wicket. It also signalled a change of attitude from Faff du Plessis. He had been batting like the slacker in the office, but with the boss around he thought he’d better lift his game.
What was particularly impressive was how they went about countering Vettori. Not stupid stuff, just a conscious attempt to nullify the dot balls, with a few straight hit boundaries.
But this was not New Zealand’s day in the field. De Villiers almost chopped on first ball, Williamson narrowly missed running him out before dropping a catch he would normally take. De Villiers would then sky a pull-shot which landed perfectly in between the three chasin fieldsmen.
You can not let The Greatest Player in the World © get away with that many chances.
The way they were going you would have expected 12 an over through the rest of the overs; possibly more given the fact New Zealand’s fifth bowler still had five overs to go. That means a total of 360+
Whatever happens with the rain, however overs remain, Duckworth Lewis will be New Zealand’s friend this evening