AUCKLAND: South Africa captain AB de Villiers produced a rapid 65 not out as South Africa set New Zealand a target of 298 in a rain-shortened World Cup semi-final at Eden Park on Tuesday.
South Africa made 281-5 and the figure was revised under the Duckworth/Lewis system after the match was reduced to 43 overs a side following a near two-hour rain breaks.
South Africa had set themselves up for a big finish with heavy hitters in hand only to be denied seven overs when rain swept in when they were 216-3 in the 38th over.
They added 65 in the five overs after the resumption with David Miller scoring 49 of them from 18 balls.
De Villiers, who was on 60 at the rain break, faced 45 balls for his unbeaten 65.
South Africa had progressed at a modest pace through the first half of the innings before de Villiers arrived to accelerate the run rate from four to 6.53.
Eden Park does not hold great memories for the Proteas skipper after his last visit ended in a loss to Pakistan in a rain-affected pool match.
As he attacked the New Zealand bowling, Faf du Plessis held up the other end to be 82 off 106 deliveries at the rain break and he was dismissed with the first ball he faced after the resumption.
De Villiers brought up his 50 in 32 deliveries. After being dropped by Kane Williamson at short cover on 38 he reached his half century with a six and two fours off the next three balls from Corey Anderson.
It was one of four catches dropped by New Zealand.
De Villiers, who did not feel comfortable with the Eden Park lights when chasing against Pakistan, opted to bat first in daylight when he won the toss.
It was a marginal call as the heavy cloud cover played into the hands of New Zealand’s swing bowlers.
Tim Southee and Trent Boult opened with three slips which grew to four slips and a gully by the sixth over.
The early momentum ran with South Africa as edges raced through to the boundary, wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi dropped Quinton de Kock on six and Boult missed a difficult chance to catch Amla at long leg.
But their luck could not hold. In the fourth over, Boult bowled Amla for 10 and in the eighth over he had de Kock caught for 14 to have South Africa at 31 for two.
The two dismissals took Boult to 21 for the tournament eclipsing the previous best by a New Zealander at a World Cup set by Geoff Allott who took 20 wickets in 1999.
After Boult’s double strike, Du Plessis and Rilee Rossouw (39) put the innings back on track with an 83-run partnership but at a pedestrian pace that was not addressed until de Villiers’s arrival.
McCullum engineered the fall of Rossouw by mixing up his fifth-bowler options with Kane Williamson and Grant Elliott getting an over each before Anderson came on and claimed the wicket with his second delivery.
Boult finished with two for 53 and Anderson three for 72.
The 23-year-old Matt Henry, thrust straight into the frontline a day after being rushed into the squad when Adam Milne was ruled out with injury, had none for nine off his first five overs but his next three cost 31 runs.