Ryan McLaren hit the final ball of the third Momentum One-Day International for an outrageous six to secure an astonishing one-wicket victory for South Africa against New Zealand and avoid an unprecedented series whitewash on home soil at Senwes Park on Friday.
The Proteas threatened to repeat the meltdown from a winning position which cost them victory in the second match in Kimberley on Tuesday when they crashed from 174-3 to 251-8 in reply to the Black Caps competitive total of 260-9 but McLaren spared the batsmen’s blushes by playing an outrageous ‘ramp’ shot against James Franklin which flew over the fine leg boundary with three runs required for victory.
A fine century from man-of-the-match Graeme Smith appeared to have played his team into a winning position but astute captaincy and tight field placings 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. It was a shot unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry by the batsmen or his delighted team mates.
Three timely half-centuries from the Black Caps’ middle-order kept them in the game when they seemed to be a long way behind an acceptable run rate for long periods of the game on an excellent batting pitch.
Grant Elliott (54) batted with sensible caution as the tourists crawled 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.