Potchefstroom - A six off the last ball of the match helped South Africa avoid a series whitewash and beat New Zealand by one wicket in the third and final one-day international in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The Black Caps went into the match with a 2-0 advantage and set their hosts a target of 261.
Needing eight off the last over, South Africa had to make three off the last ball. Dale Steyn lost his wicket on the fifth ball but the batsmen had crossed leaving Ryan McLaren to face.
To the crowd’s delight, he scooped a six off James Franklin to finish on 25 not out.
It was Graeme Smith though who had done all the hard yards earlier. He played a magnificent innings and watched a slew of partners come and go at the other end.
His 10th ODI century, off 119 balls, came almost a year to the day after his last one, which he scored against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Smith’s most significant partnership was with Quinton de Kock. The pair started the chase with an opening stand of 83 runs off 95 balls.
Franklin made the breakthrough when De Kock, on 31, played and missed allowing the ball to clip the top of leg stump.
Colin Ingram then joined Smith as the latter brought up his 48th ODI half-century. They looked set for another big partnership until Ingram (25) chipped Nathan McCullum to midwicket, giving Martin Guptill a simple catch.
Captain Faf du Plessis (19) went in similar fashion Ä this time the bowler was Kyle Mills – and visions of another collapse came to mind.
Kane Williamson took a great caught and bowled to dismiss Farhaan Behardien for four and David Miller (15) was bowled by Mills.
With McLaren as his partner, Smith appeared to be firmly in control.
However, he holed out for 116 with a poor shot off Williamson to BJ Watling at long-on.
It was a dejected Smith who walked off the field once again leaving the run chase to the inexperienced tail.
Earlier, half-centuries from Grant Elliott, Colin Munro and James Franklin helped the visitors reach 260 for nine in the sweltering afternoon heat after opting to bat first.
Elliott’s (54) fifth ODI half-century came off 65 balls and he shared a crucial fifth wicket stand with Munro which produced 61
He was caught off an upper cut by Dale Steyn who took a low diving catch running in from third man.
Elliott's wicket was Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s third of four wickets, after he made the initial breakthrough dismissing Martin Guptill for five and centurion from Kimberley Kane Williamson for six.
Ranked fourth in the world and the top South African one-day bowler, Tsotsobe was particularly impressive in his first spell.
The hard-hitting Munro, who was born in Durban, reached his maiden ODI half-century in only his second match, off 55 balls.
He shared a 67-run partnership with Franklin before Tsotsobe struck again and Munro was caught behind.
His final bowling figures were 4/45 off his 10 overs while Ryan McLaren also took four wickets at a cost of 52 runs.
South Africa’s bowling attack slackened towards the end and they gave away a total of 17 wides. - Sapa