Ryan McLaren hit the final ball of the third One-Day International for an clever six to secure an unlikely one-wicket victory for South Africa against BLACKCAPS to narrowly avoid a series whitewash at Senwes Park on Friday.
The Proteas threatened to repeat the collapse from a solid position similar to that which they faced in Kimberley on Tuesday when they crashed from 174-3 to 251-8.
In reply to the BLACKCAPS competitive total of 260-9, McLaren saved his team by playing an adventurous ‘ramp’ shot against James Franklin which flew over the fine leg boundary with three runs required for victory.
A classy century from man-of-the-match Graeme Smith appeared to have played his team into a winning position but astute captaincy and tight field placement from Brendon McCullum heaped the pressure on South Africa’s middle-order and the pressure began to tell after Smith was caught at long-off for an excellent 116 from 130 balls.
Smith’s departure left the Proteas requiring 32 runs from the final 26 balls. But wickets kept tumbling and McLaren was joined by last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe with the score on 258-9 and one ball left.
The wickets were shared between the New Zealand attack with Kyle Mills (two for 40), Mitchell McClenaghan (two for 70), James Franklin (two for 38) and Kane Williamson (two for 40) all chipped in while Nathan McCullum was miserly, returning one for 35.
Three excellent half-centuries from the BLACKCAPS middle-order kept the run-rate ticking over.
Grant Elliott (54) batted sensibly as the tourists steadily built to 96-4 after 30 overs but Colin Munro provided some spark with 57 from 62 deliveries and James Franklin finished the job with 17 off the final over from Rory Kleinveldt to finish with an unbeaten 53 from 52 balls.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the pick of the South African attack with 4-45 from his 10 overs although McLaren was similarly good value for his 4-52.