Kiwi genius sends cricket world wild
South Africa's disastrous relationship with World Cups took another dire turn this morning as New Zealand captain Kane Williamson plunged a dagger into the country's heart with a matchwinning century in what's being hailed as the best game of the tournament.
The Black Caps handed the Proteas their fourth loss in six games, ruining whatever slight hopes they had of making the knockout phase, as they clinched a nailbiting four-wicket victory in Birmingham.
Williamson was the difference, hitting a four and a six in the final two overs to guide his team to the win with three balls remaining as he held the innings together with his maiden World Cup ton, ending the match unbeaten on 106 from 138 balls.
The cricket world was in awe of the Kiwi skipper, who became the third-fastest person to reach 3000 ODI runs as captain during the course of today's innings.
Colin de Grandhomme played a vital knock too, blasting 60 off 47 balls to snatch the momentum away from South Africa after New Zealand had slumped to 5/137 chasing 242 for victory.
But as has been the tale so often for South Africa at World Cups, it was its own worst enemy. The biggest blue of the match came when Williamson looked to have edged leg-spinner Imran Tahir into the gloves of Quinton de Kock, but the wicketkeeper didn't appeal for a catch and no review was asked for.
The Kiwis needed 69 from 11 overs when Tahir got the better of Williamson with the last ball of a brilliant spell that saw him finish with figures of 0/33 from 10 overs. The tweaker half-appealed but nobody else said anything and Williamson carried on his merry way.
Ultra Edge showed afterwards New Zealand's best batsman had got a faint tickle on the ball. Rather than turning the match in the Proteas' favour, it probably cost them the game.
In commentary for Sky Sports, Isa Guha said: "How did Quinton de Kock not hear it? I just can't understand it."
Former Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum added: "I'm staggered they did not review that. It was such a pivotal moment."
Speaking after the match, captain Faf du Plessis didn't even know Williamson had edged the ball when the topic came up in his TV interview.
"Was that a nick? Oh, didn't know about it. There was no real appeal," he said. "I was standing at long-on and there was no real, 'Let's have a look at it'."
South Africa's wobbles worsened when Andile Phehlukwayo was called for a no-ball for a full toss above the waist on a delivery that saw Williamson dropped in the deep by Lungi Ngidi. It was a comedy of errors that summed up the team's day after earlier bungling a run out chance that would have sent Williamson packing.
New Zealand looked set to comfortably reach the target with Martin Guptill and Williamson at the crease but South African fast bowler Chris Morris picked up three wickets to leave New Zealand struggling before Williamson de Grandhomme shared a 91-run partnership.
De Grandhomme fell before the end but Williamson reached his century with a six in the final over and guided New Zealand to its fourth win of the tournament.
Earlier, South Africa's batsmen - apart from Hashim Amla and Rassie van der Dussen - failed to build on starts after being put in to bat in the face of a disciplined bowling effort from the Kiwis.
Amla was bowled for 55 by Mitchell Santner but Van der Dussen's unbeaten 67 off 64 balls gave the South Africans a respectable total to defend. The result leaves South Africa virtually out of the running for a semi-final spot while New Zealand kept its unbeaten run intact to move to the top of the standings with four wins in five games, the other being a no-result because of rain.