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New Zealand beat South Africa in tour opener

It was first blood to New Zealand, when they achieved a comfortable five wicket victory over South Africa in the Standard Bank Pro20 match at the Wanderers on Friday.

It was first blood to New Zealand, when they achieved a comfortable five wicket victory over South Africa in the Standard Bank Pro20 match at the Wanderers on Friday.

Chasing a small target of 134 for victory, the visitors achieved this score with two overs to spare.

The South Africans had a disastrous start to their international season, when they suffered an embarrassing collapse, after being sent in to bat.

Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis began well, putting on 84 runs for the first wicket, but once Smith was caught and bowled by Nathan Astle for 61, including 10 fours and a six, the home side buckled.

Apart from Smith and Kallis (20) no-one went into double figures, and when Shane Bond bowled Makhaya Ntini for five, South Africa were all out for 133 with three balls remaining. Nathan Astle and Jeetan Patel did most of the damage, with three wickets each.

Defending such a small total was always going to be a problem, but the South African bowlers battled valiantly. Andre Nel struck twice in his first over, bowling Nathan Astle for 10 with his first delivery, and having Hamish Marshall caught behind by Boucher with the last ball of the over.

Charl Langeveldt was also successful in his first over, when he had danger man Stephen Fleming caught by Albie Morkel for 31.

But New Zealand never looked in any danger, and went about their task calmly. Jacob Oram made 23 off 16 deliveries, and Brendon McCullum made 17 off nine.

Graeme Smith used seven bowlers, bringing Nicky Boje on as a super sub for Justin Kemp, and then with a final throw of the dice, brought himself on to bowl the 18th over.

Two no-balls cost South Africa dearly - Smith went for 20 runs in his only over, and New Zealand coasted home.

Both captains agreed after the match that the Pro20 format was an ideal tour opener, but suggested that care should be taken that the shorter form of the game did not harm the traditional one-day internationals.

"It generates interest in the game, and it's a great occasion," said Fleming. "But no-one should read too much into the outcome of the match.

"The team that wins is going to say that the result is important, and the team that loses will say the result doesn't matter."

Smith said that Pro20 brings different people to the game and generates a lot of excitement.

"But I think its most important function is in domestic cricket, as it gives the provincial players the experience of playing in front of big crowds. I don't think we should have too many matches of this kind, particularly as the schedule is already over-crowded."

Fleming was very pleased with the performance of his bowlers, who managed to stem the flow of runs, and restrict South Africa to a small total.

Smith too was pleased with his bowlers. "Our problem was probably that the guys coming in after the 10th over were trying too hard. We have a lot of work to do, but Sunday is when it counts, and I think you will see a different performance there."

He explained that he had brought himself on to bowl because South Africa were running out of time to finish their overs.

"We didn't want to risk having the captain banned - we want to play with a full team when we start the real thing on Sunday," he said.

The first of the five one-day internationals will be played in Bloemfontein on Sunday, and Smith and his team will be hoping to put on a better performance in the more established form of the game. Salve helices pariah inure paleoserology evangelistic?
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