AB de Villiers has smashed a boundary with the second-last ball to give South Africa a four-wicket one-day international win over New Zealand.
Set a target of 208 for victory in the reduced-overs match in Hamilton, de Villiers smacked Tim Southee straight down the ground to pinch victory at the death.
But the 33-year-old skipper couldn’t have done it without the help of Andile Phehlukwayo’s quick-fire 29, including one critical final-over six off Southee.
Southee, who had previously impressed with the bat himself, was tasked with limiting the world No.1 ODI side to fewer than 12 runs in the final over.
But he couldn’t secure the dot balls required, with New Zealand going 1-0 down in the five-game series.
The match had earlier been delayed by three hours due to rain.
“It’s a little bit of a shame really,” skipper Kane Williamson said.
“We fought hard but it wasn’t a great performance from us, so we’ll have to do better next time.”
The loss will be all the harder for New Zealand to take after batting first and overcoming a middle-order collapse to hit 7-207 off 34 overs.
Williamson scored a clinical 59 off 53 deliveries at first-drop, before some lower-order ball-bashing produced 49 runs in the last three overs.
Southee scored 24 off 13, including three boundaries and a six, while Colin de Grandhomme cleared the ropes three times on the way to 34.
The pair’s 50-run partnership in 23 balls forced the Proteas to score 6.08 an over for victory, which they approached gradually on a quick-turning wicket.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock pounded the deep-point boundary on his way to a half-century off 47 balls before partner Hashim Amla went for 35.
Faf du Plessis was soon after trapped LBW by Ish Sodhi for 14 and de Kock was dismissed by Trent Boult for 69.
JP Duminy and Farhaan Berhadien were then knocked over in successive Southee deliveries.
The four wickets in 14 balls put the Black Caps on the front foot, and after a brief rally Morris skied Santner to Boult at long-off for 16.
But South Africa couldn’t be discounted with de Villiers at the crease, and alongside Phehlukwayo he guided his side home.
“I thought we adapted exceptionally well,” de Villiers said.
“The wicket turned so much in the evening.”
The two sides will clash again in the second ODI in Christchurch on Wednesday.