A brilliant all–round performance by skipper Shaun Pollock propelled South Africa into the triangular series finals with a crushing 67–run win over New Zealand at the WACA in Perth today.
After smashing 69 runs off 34 balls in South Africa's 270 for five in 50 overs, Pollock snared two wickets for 55 as New Zealand was restricted to 203 for eight in 50 overs.
Jonty Rhodes was top scorer for South Africa with his second one–day international century, scoring 107 not out off 135 balls with nine fours and sharing two match–winning stands to rescue the side from 35 for four.
South Africa moved to 18 points, one clear of New Zealand on the standings. Australia, with 13 points, plays South Africa on Sunday in a make–or–break clash for the host.
By restricting New Zealand to a score under 216 South Africa grabbed an invaluable bonus point.
The conclusive South African win has put Australia in danger of missing out on the finals for the first time in five years and only for the third time in 23 years of tri–series cricket at home.
If Australia wins without a bonus point on Sunday, it would lose out to New Zealand despite finishing on 17 points apiece. The visitors enjoy a 3–1 superiority in the head–to–head clash.
Pollock bludgeoned six sixes – including four consecutive sixes in the penultimate over off leftarm seamer James Franklin – for a South African record 27 runs in an over in a one–day international.
It was the most runs scored in one over during a limited–overs international in Australia.
Only Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya has scored more runs in one over – a record 30 runs – twice in his 252–match career. He hit Pakistan's Aamir Sohail in Singapore in April 1996 and New Zealand's Chris Harris in Sharjah in April last year.
After skipper Stephen Fleming had put South Africa into bat Dion Nash took 3–37 including 3–20 in his opening seven–over burst.
Rhodes and Mark Boucher, 58 runs off 76 balls, shared 138 off 176 balls to setup the Pollock onslaught which realized 72 runs in the last five overs.
Pollock and Rhodes shared 97 undefeated runs off 55 balls against Franklin and Andre Adams, who was hit for 18 in the last over of the innings.
New Zealand had gone into the game with the injured allrounder Chris Cairns (back strain) and fast bowler Shane Bond (groin).
Rhodes, a 217–match veteran, had scored his only other limited–overs international century five years ago, when he hit a career–best unbeaten 121 against Pakistan in Nairobi, Kenya in September 1996.
Rhodes, the backbone of many batting revivals during the current series, batted flawlessly while Boucher played a typically pugnacious 76–ball innings.
Later, Craig McMillan threatened briefly with a 43–ball 46 runs but a brilliant catch by Gary Kirsten at third man ended the run–chase.
Makhaya Ntini and Allan Donald also took two wickets apiece.