South Africa 357 for 4 (van der Dussen 133, de Kock 114, Miller 53*, Southee 2-77) beat New Zealand 167 (Phillips 60, Young 33, Maharaj 4-46, Jansen 3-31) by 190 runs
The defeat, and the quantum of it, was massive from a tournament’s standpoint, with New Zealand now slipping back to potentially enter a logjam for fourth place, which Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are all eyeing. Few would have expected New Zealand to cave in the manner they did, even after South Africa had set them 358.
New Zealand’s capitulation was a sharp contrast to how things panned out for South Africa after they were put into bat.
Temba Bavuma was the early aggressor, crunching two cover drives off Matt Henry in the fourth over to kick the innings into gear. De Kock was largely subdued and fidgety early on, and even copped a blow to the shoulder from a Trent Boult bouncer in the ninth over. At that point, South Africa’s innings had barely gotten out of second gear. Having roughed up de Kock, Boult had sent Bavuma back with a sucker ball, a full one that had him nicking low to Mitchell at slip.
It could have been wickets in back-to-back overs for New Zealand had Phillips latched on to a screamer at backward point off Tim Southee. That we’re even talking about it being a chance was down to his brilliance – anticipating de Kock’s cut and taking two steps to his right before flinging himself full-stretch to go one-handed. De Kock was on 12 off 24 at that point.
At the other end, van der Dussen helped himself to a pull to begin proceedings as Southee, coming in for the first game of his fourth World Cup, seemed erratic and down on pace to begin with. For much of the first 100 runs in their 200-run stand, de Kock and van der Dussen were steady and calculating, playing themselves into a position from which they could tee off in the back 15. It’s a plan that worked to the T for them, and perhaps much more easily than they may have anticipated because New Zealand had a massive hole to fill midway through.
Henry pulled his hamstring halfway through his sixth over, the 27th of the innings, to leave Ravindra, James Neesham and Phillips to bowl 14.3 overs between them. De Kock and van der Dussen accelerated knowing fully well that New Zealand needed to back-load their part-timers.
The first sign of de Kock breaking the shackles came in the 16th over when he got stuck into Southee. He followed an imperious pull in front of square for four by walloping a six over the bowler’s head. De Kock had another slice of luck soon after when he chipped Phillips into the leg side, with the ball falling between three fielders. De Kock soon brought up his half-century off 62 deliveries and van der Dussen followed suit, getting there off 61.
New Zealand’s cup of woe was far from over. Neesham, one of the part-timers called on to make up overs, suffered a blow of his own when he was struck flush on the thumb by a de Kock straight drive. On 95, de Kock should have been run out off the same delivery when he was sent back even as the ball deflected to Mitchell Santner at cover. The batter had given up hope when Santner fired a throw at the bowler’s end, but it missed the stumps. De Kock soon brought up his hundred – his fourth of this World Cup, which left him one behind Rohit Sharma’s record of five in a single edition – by getting inside the line and helping a pull deep beyond the fine leg fence for six. He reached the century off 103 balls, and seemed to be revving up for a big finish.
At the other end, the industrious van der Dussen brought out cute reverse paddles and sweeps to throw New Zealand’s spinners off gear. The second-wicket pair had added 200 at better than a run-a-ball when de Kock picked out point to give Southee a wicket in the 40th over. It’s at this point that South Africa pulled out a surprise move, pushing Miller up the order, seemingly to keep the left-right combination going, and he tore into the bowling at the death to get to his half-century in 29 balls. Neesham went for 69 off his 5.3 overs, and conceded 18 in the 50th.
While New Zealand walked off knowing they had a big chase, there was a sense that the game was still in the balance given how well they had batted in big chases against England and Australia. But their hopes were dashed by a South African attack that made you wonder if this was the same surface New Zealand had bowled on.
After the top order was blown away, Phillips delayed the inevitable, getting in some batting time amid a lower-order collapse. By the end, New Zealand were so desperate to minimise the damage to their net run rate that an injured Henry hobbled out to bat and gave Phillips company for 5.1 overs, in the process adding 34 for the final wicket. However, even that didn’t quite diminish the magnitude of the defeat, which, all told, was a proper pasting.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo