Cricket: Kirsten leads run charge

New Zealand 220-9 South Africa 224-3 South Africa win by 7 wkts

TWO CENTURY partnerships involving Gary Kirsten took South Africa to a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in the second one-day international at Lancaster Park yesterday.

Chasing 221 to win, South Africa were reduced to 12 for 2 before Kirsten added 103 with Jacques Kallis to rebuild the innings and then an unbroken 109 with the captain, Hansie Cronje, to win the match.

Apart from the win, which levelled the six-match series at 1-1, Kirsten's innings signalled a return to form for the once- prolific opener after enduring a wretched run that produced 80 runs in his last 10 matches.

Kallis, who scored 100 in the first match in Dunedin, continued his form in reaching 50 from 60 balls before falling lbw to Gavin Larsen, while Cronje was brutal in his treatment of the spinner Daniel Vettori.

Cronje reached his 34th limited-overs half-century from 45 balls with three sixes and six fours, but the day belonged to Kirsten who reached 50 from 60 balls before hitting the winning runs with his 10th boundary, finishing unbeaten on 81. Cronje was 74 not out when the match was won with seven overs left.

Earlier, Dion Nash's decision to bat first backfired when his side slipped to 29 for 3 inside seven overs before the innings was held together by a stubborn 78 from Roger Twose. Kallis had Nathan Astle (1) caught by Shaun Pollock in the gully before two immaculate Pollock off-cutters had both Matt Horne (5) and Craig McMillan (6) caught by Daryll Cullinan at slip.

Twose and Adam Parore repaired much of the early damage with a stand of 102 from 147 balls for the fourth wicket before Parore cut Pollock to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. Twose was bogged down after the exit of Nash for six, but New Zealand were carried to a potentially competitive total by Chris Harris' 45 not out, which included three sixes and two fours.

The third one-day international is at Eden Gardens, Auckland, on Saturday.

ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL (Christchurch, NZ) New Zealand 220-9 (R Twose 78; Pollock 4-45), South Africa 224-3 (J Kallis 53, H Cronje 74no G Kirsten 81no). South Africa won by seven wickets. Series level at 1-1.