It was not a good advertisement for one-day cricket. Never has the toss proved more decisive. It was unfair to an extent that one team enjoyed the best of conditions while the other played 'catch up'. Even in this context of the match, though, South Africa had only themselves to blame as at least 25 runs were up for grabs and that could have tilted the balance in their favour.
The slow wicket hardly was a platform that would help stroke play but what went wrong in the power play for South Africa was their inability to rotate the strike and look busy. Gunmetal skies and Shane Bond were the ingredients that undid the Proteas, and it was a pity such a high profile game had to be decided by the spin of the coin.
With the momentum shift heavily with the Kiwis and so much catching up to do for the South Africans even part time trundlers like McMillan were able to stifle up the run rate and instill pressure on the batsmen in the slog overs.
The New Zealand fielding was also top notch. That added to the allure. Stephen Fleming did have the variety in the attack to pose problems for the batsmen and did not allow them to get settled to one type. Off-spinner Patel showed a lot of heart, and rose brilliantly to the occasion and to me he will hold the key along with Vettori if New Zealand goes on to do well in the tournament from here.
When targets are less than 200, it gives a huge psychological advantage for the side chasing and all the Kiwis had to do was bat put the quota to get to the target and they did with their customary efficiency. South Africa did not display their usually athletic fielding and paid the price.
Graeme Smith was found short on the spin department, for example if there was a high pedigree spinner like Murali in their ranks the script could have been altered। The lack of variety is going to hit the South Africans hard whenever the wickets get slow and low.
The evening today will be a major irritation for fans across the sub-continent. Who would have thought an impending India-Pakistan clash would have been substituted by a Ireland-Bangladesh tie? The giants have only their own selves to blame. The two minnows earned the right by playing good cricket in the first round. And even though the clash has been ridiculed by many, I will have to admit the match will throw some good cricket as every level of the game has its own charms to offer.