Quinton de Kock copped a blow on the helmet and tackled some tricky deliveries en route to his unbeaten 84 (89b, 12x4, 1x6), but in the end, it wasn’t enough as South Africa went down to New Zealand by seven runs via Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-curtailed World Cup warm-up fixture.
After Devon Conway (78, 73b, 11x4, 1x6) and Tom Latham (52, 56b, 4x4, 1x6) guided New Zealand to 321 for 6, South Africa was cruising at 211 for 4 in 37 overs when rain stopped play. South Africa was seven runs behind the DLS score of 218 when it started drizzling initially. But in quick time, it started pouring - forcing the match officials to call off the game.
After its first game against Afghanistan was washed out without a ball being bowled, South Africa looked steady despite chasing a tall total, with de Kock holding the fort and Rassue van Dussen contributing with a gritty 51 off 56.
Even though New Zealand’s fast bowlers - Trent Boult and Matt Henry - troubled the South African batters initially with their swing, dismissing Reza Hendricks on a duck, the Proteas fought back, and de Kock and van Dussen forged a 72-run partnership.
AS IT HAPPENED: New Zealand vs South Africa highlights
They played to the merit of the ball and handled spinners well before van Dussen fell to Mitchell Santner. Though the seasoned Ish Sodhi dismissed captain Aiden Markram early, Heinrich Klaasen continued to enjoy life against the spinners as he looked at ease against Sodhi and Rachin Ravindra.
With de Kock looking set for a century, the match was heading for another high-scoring thriller before rain played a spoilsport.
Earlier, New Zealand looked set to get past 350 with Conway in top form. Opener Tom Latham and middle-order batter Glenn Phillips had missed out in the first game against Pakistan, but on a surface that had something in it for new ball bowlers, they all scored runs.
Kane Williamson, who’s recovering, also looked good again in his gritty 37, before Latham scored a 52-run innings off 56 deliveries.
As the day progressed, batting looked easy, but credit to South African bowlers - Marco Jansen, Ngidi Lungi and Kagiso Rabada - as they did not allow New Zealand to get the final flourish. They limited the damage in the last 10 overs as the trio executed their plans nicely - with a change of pace, some wide yorkers and short ball.
As South Africa leaves for New Delhi on Tuesday morning for its tournament opener, van Dussen did not want to think too much about the rain-marred warm-ups.
In fact, he believed that the team was feeling fresh. “It is what it is, it’s not too bad. We are going into the tournament, feeling quite fresh… We expected the rain to come much earlier today, so we are happy with the time we got in the middle. We decided to bowl first to give the bowlers a good spell. You can’t really think too much about it,” he said.
In another development, Temba Bavuma - the South African captain, who had gone home to attend to a personal emergency - is on his way back to India and will join the team in New Delhi on Tuesday, confirmed the team’s spokesperson.
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