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Proteas almost throw it away

South Africa survived a late fightback from error-ridden New Zealand to win at the Wanderers by three wickets in a thriller.

Scott Styris hit 30 and Kyle Mills 33 not out but Shaun Pollock (3-28) and Albie Morkel (2-29) profited from poor shots as the Kiwis managed only 129-7.

Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith fell cheaply but JP Duminy, who blasted 33, and AB de Villiers (52no) were dropped as the Proteas appeared to be cruising.

But they stumbled before Johan Botha hit the penultimate ball for four.

It provided a dramatic finale to a game the hosts were in control of from the start.

Dale Steyn (1-17), who tormented the tourists in their 2-0 Test series defeat, again swung the ball at pace on a pitch offering bounce.

Pollock did the initial damage, however, seeing Brendon McCullum and Jamie How snapped up at extra-cover and wide mid-off after both had pulled him for sixes.

Ross Taylor edged Morkel to slip having upper-cut for six two balls previously, and Lou Vincent was lbw trying to reverse-sweep off-spinner Botha.

After Gareth Hopkins and skipper Daniel Vettori failed to trouble the scorers much, Scott Styris tried to rally the Black Caps by dispatching Morkel and Botha through mid-wicket for rare boundaries.

But he drove the returning Steyn to cover and it was left to Mills to boost the total by lofting Langeveldt over wide long-off and down the ground for sixes.

New Zealand continued that revival when Jacques Kallis top-edged a pull off Mark Gillespie and out-of-sorts skipper Smith edged Mills behind.

It could have been even better for the tourists but Duminy was dropped by McCullum off Mills, de Villers was put down at long-off by Mills off Vettori and Gillespie grassed an even easier chance at deep mid-wicket when Mark Boucher skied a pull off Michael Mason.

New Zealand eventually had a third breakthrough when Duminy, who had lifted Vettori into the crowd at deep mid-wicket for his second maximum, was outfoxed by the left-arm spinner to be stumped.

Boucher was unfortunate to be given out lbw to Jeetan Patel when the ball hit him outside off-stump and looked to be going over the stumps, while Pollock holed out to deep mid-wicket off the off-spinner.

De Villiers made the most of his reprieve with some glorious pulls and cover drives, to put the hosts on course for a comfortable win.

South Africa, somehow made a mess of things at the end with Morkel driving Styris straight to extra-cover having heaved a maximum off Patel.

Seven were needed off the final over and when Vernon Philander run out in shambolic fashion, the Black Caps sensed an opportunity.

But Botha kept his clip the penultimate ball from Mills through mid-wicket and maintain the Proteas' winning momentum going into the first of three 50-over internationals in Durban on Sunday.

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