New Zealand captain Kane Williamson saluted team-mate Colin de Grandhomme after a tense four-wicket win over South Africa at the Cricket World Cup.

Williamson and De Grandhomme compiled the 91-run match-defining partnership before the latter was dismissed for 60 from 47 balls with victory in sight at Edgbaston.

A six followed by a four from Williamson saw New Zealand home with three balls to spare, and he was predictably named man of the match after reaching 106 not out.

However, Williamson preferred to praise De Grandhomme, whose quickfire runs gave the Black Caps momentum at a crucial stage of the contest.

"Colin de Grandhomme stood out for me today, in terms of with the ball and then the impetus he came and showed with the bat was really special," Williamson said.

"It was a superb knock from him."

Williamson said of his own task with the bat: "It's trying to do the job as well as you can, and I was fortunate I was able to do it today. There were a number of other contributions that were so vital throughout the innings.

"Today was a really close match - could have gone either way - but it was nice to get a win."

New Zealand remain unbeaten and look to be heading to the semi-finals. Williamson's opposite number Faf du Plessis, by contrast, is facing World Cup elimination with South Africa.

Du Plessis said after a fourth defeat of his team's campaign: "Performances haven't been there. Individually we would have liked to have taken on more responsibility to put on performances that could drive the team home but it hasn't been there.

"But we are fighting as a team and I think you saw that today."

South Africa are staring at Cricket World Cup elimination after Kane Williamson's century powered New Zealand to a thrilling last-over victory at Edgbaston.

The New Zealand captain reached 3,000 ODI runs as skipper of the Black Caps while making the 106 not out that drove his team to a four-wicket success in overhauling the Proteas' 241-6.

The semi-finals are in sight for a New Zealand side who remain unbeaten and move top of the group-stage table, but hapless South Africa face ignominious elimination after a fourth loss in six.

Williamson was the steadying influence in a New Zealand innings that could have fallen apart without him.

He and Martin Guptill put on 60 for the second wicket, before Guptill trod on his own stumps. Williamson later shared in a 91-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Colin de Grandhomme just as South Africa began to threaten.

Chris Morris took three middle-order wickets and bowled well for South Africa, but it was neither his nor his team's day. That was quite clear when David Miller dropped De Grandhomme and then failed to gather at the stumps when looking to run out Williamson.

De Grandhomme went for 60 late on but Williamson made sure, crashing Andile Phehlukwayo over midwicket for six to reach three figures in the final over before victory was secured with three balls left.

South Africa's innings was built on three core partnerships, as Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis put on 50 for the second wicket, Amla and Aiden Markram added 52 for the third, and Rassie van der Dussen joined Miller in putting on 72 for the fifth.

Amla reached a landmark during his 55 as he became the second fastest player to accumulate 8,000 ODI runs, with only Virat Kohli having reached the mark in fewer innings.

Van der Dussen went on the attack late on and finished with 67 not out from 64 deliveries, but South Africa needed more than isolated big hitting to trouble such distinguished opposition and their tournament is all but over.

 

SOUTH AFRICA CAN ONLY BLAME THEMSELVES

They had plenty of chances to come out on the right side of such a tight encounter, but South Africa were the architects of their own downfall. Replays at a crucial point in the match suggested Imran Tahir drew a nick behind from Williamson, but there was no review taken. A catch went down, a run out was missed. It was chaotic fielding and New Zealand capitalised.

MORRIS MAKES HIS MARK

Set aside the brutal opening defeat to Bangladesh for one moment, and Morris has had a fine World Cup for South Africa. He made runs against India, took three wickets against Afghanistan and now another three wickets at New Zealand's expense. The medium-fast bowler can look innocuous at times, but try telling that to Ross Taylor, Tom Latham and Jimmy Neesham, who all perished to him. Team-mates failed to match his display, however.

Hashim Amla became the second fastest player to accumulate 8,000 ODI runs after reaching the landmark in South Africa's Cricket World Cup encounter with New Zealand on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Proteas opener got to the landmark figure in his 176th innings in the format, having started the day on 7,976 career runs.

Only Virat Kohli has reached 8,000 ODI runs in fewer innings than Amla, the India captain getting there in 175 knocks.

Amla was looking to play a telling innings at Edgbaston in a crucial match for struggling South Africa in their World Cup campaign.

He lost his opening partner Quinton de Kock in the second over, and captain Faf du Plessis fell for 23 after helping to put on 50 for the second wicket.

Amla was unbeaten on 34 at the beginning of the 18th over, with South Africa 66-2.

Kohli was also playing at Edgbaston when he achieved the feat, making an unbeaten 96 against Bangladesh at the Champions Trophy two years ago.

Ben Smith will return from almost seven weeks out when the Highlanders meet the Crusaders in the Super Rugby quarter-finals on Friday.

The New Zealand star suffered a hamstring injury in the 31-31 draw with the Chiefs on May 4 and was initially ruled out for six to eight weeks.

And although the Highlanders have taken no risks with Smith, who will depart for Pau later this year, he is fit to play against the defending Super Rugby champions in Christchurch.

Smith's inclusion will come as a boost to the All Blacks, with the 33-year-old to see some club action ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan in September.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger told reporters: "He's trained really well in the first couple of days this week.

"He was touch and go last week, so we thought he would be a good chance for this week.

"He's done everything required and ran around at full pace yesterday, getting off the ground and getting in the air. He's 100 per cent confident that he's good to go."

Quinton de Kock acknowledges South Africa's Cricket World Cup clash with New Zealand is effectively a "quarter-final" due to its must-win nature, yet the Proteas are feeling confident.

South Africa endured a miserable start to the World Cup, losing their first three matches and then only taking a point against West Indies due to no result.

A victory against Afghanistan kept the Proteas' top-four and semi-final hopes alive, but there is no room for error now, with South Africa four points adrift of fourth-placed India.

"It's a big game for us, but in saying that, our next three or four games that we have [are, too]," De Kock told a news conference on Tuesday.

"They're all going to be big games for us for the rest of the tournament. We're just going to have to go out there, keep our heads steady and play freely.

"Tomorrow is a quarter-final, I guess you could say. But if we do win it, it's another big game again.

"Obviously, it is a big game, but there's a lot more that we are focusing on also. We have to win all the games, not just focus on tomorrow.

"But in saying that, we know how good New Zealand are playing at the moment. They are a big team in World Cups. They always seem to step up. So it's going to be a tough one."

Of South Africa's mood, he added: "Before our first game that we played against England, we were in a pretty good space also then, mentally and with preparation.

"Then obviously, during the course of the tournament, after losing all the time, there's always a bit of a slump in being mentally strong. It's a long tournament, it's a tough tournament.

"Obviously, getting a win again has given us high hopes. So we are pretty confident at the moment. It's just about taking it out there and giving the guys a good show."

South Africa will hope history fails to repeat itself when they bid to keep their Cricket World Cup hopes alive on Wednesday against New Zealand at Edgbaston.

With just one win from their opening five matches, the Proteas know anything but a victory will all but end their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

There is no shortage of recent history between the sides in this competition, with the Black Caps having dramatically reached their first World Cup final four years ago at South Africa's expense courtesy of Grant Elliott's six off the penultimate ball.

They also defeated the Proteas at the quarter-final stage in 2011.

South Africa will at least be buoyed by the return of bowler Lungi Ngidi and an improved display in their previous outing - a rampant nine-wicket triumph over Afghanistan - provided a much-needed confidence boost.

That said, a far bigger challenge will be presented by New Zealand, whose attack has been in scintillating form so far this tournament with Mitchell Santner (3.83), Lockie Ferguson (3.88) and Trent Boult (4.20) all among the leading bowlers in terms of economy.

With seven points already, the Black Caps are well positioned for a top-four finish and a place in the knockout stages, though they do still have to face a number of the tournament's leading lights.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

The pressure is on for South Africa. There is scant margin for error as far as their semi-final hopes are concerned. Defeats to England, Bangladesh and India in their opening three matches followed by the abandonment of their game against West Indies has left them with it all to do. There were at least positive signs in their win over Afghanistan.

New Zealand, by contrast, have made a hugely promising start, winning their opening three matches against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before seeing their last outing, against India, abandoned due to the inclement weather. 

WHAT THEY SAID

South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock: "I think, obviously, it's a big game for us, but in saying that, our next three or four games that we have, they're all going to be big games anyway for us for the rest of the tournament. We're just going to have to go out there, keep our heads steady, and play freely."

New Zealand bowler Trent Boult on the chance to potentially knock out South Africa: "It's not driving us in any respect. Every World Cup game, in my opinion, is a big stage, and it's a chance for us to go out there and perform and show we can bring the game and the style that we play back home in New Zealand very well to test it against quality players in foreign conditions on a big stage in front of all these fancy cameras. So we can't wait."

OPTA FACTS

- This will be the eighth World Cup meeting between New Zealand and South Africa, the Black Caps have won five of the previous seven, including each of the last four.

- New Zealand have not won an ODI at Edgbaston since 1983, losing three times there with four no results. They do have three World Cup wins at the venue (two in 1983, one in 1975).

- South Africa spinner Imran Tahir has bowled 222 balls at this World Cup and is yet to be hit for six or bowl a wide or no ball, no other bowler has bowled as many deliveries without being hit for a maximum.

- New Zealand have won 11 of their last 12 completed World Cup matches, their only defeat in that run was the 2015 final to Australia at the MCG.

South Africa may have to win all of their remaining group-stage matches to earn a place in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals and Faf du Plessis' side face two tricky challenges this week.

The Proteas lost their first three games at this tournament, belatedly getting a point on the board with a washout against West Indies before picking up their first win thanks to a comfortable triumph over Afghanistan last week.

But things certainly do not get any easier for South Africa over the coming seven days, as they take on an unbeaten New Zealand and a mercurial Pakistan, who desperately need a win themselves following Sunday's resounding defeat to fierce rivals India.

Virat Kohli's side look the strongest all-round outfit in the competition and they should pick up another victory against Afghanistan, who also face hosts England in a tough week for the only team yet to claim a point.

 

FIXTURES

Monday 17 June:  West Indies v Bangladesh (Taunton) - 1030 BST start

Tuesday 18 June:  England v Afghanistan (Old Trafford) - 1030

Wednesday 19 June:  New Zealand v South Africa (Edgbaston) - 1030

Thursday 20 June:  Australia v Bangladesh (Trent Bridge) - 1030

Friday 21 June:  England v Sri Lanka (Headingley) - 1030

Saturday 22 June:  India v Afghanistan (the Rose Bowl) - 1030, West Indies v New Zealand (Old Trafford) - 1330

Sunday 23 June:  Pakistan v South Africa (Lord's) - 1030

 

THE WEEK'S BIG GAME

With over half their matches played and only three points to their name, South Africa can ill-afford any slip-ups. Their first assignment of the week comes against the Black Caps on Wednesday, in a repeat of the thrilling semi-final from four years ago that saw New Zealand squeeze through. If the Proteas can dish out a first defeat of the tournament to Kane Williamson's side, they will go into Sunday's clash against an erratic Pakistan with renewed hope of securing a top-four finish.

STANDINGS

1. Australia - 8pts from 5 games, Net Run Rate +0.812
2. New Zealand - 7pts from 4 games, NRR +2.163
3. India - 7pts from 4 games, NRR +1.029
4. England - 6pts from 4 games, NRR +1.557
5. Sri Lanka - 4pts from 5 games, NRR -1.778
6. West Indies - 3pts from 4 games, NRR +0.666
7. South Africa - 3pts from 5 games, NRR -0.208
8. Bangladesh - 3pts from 4 games, NRR -0.714
9. Pakistan - 3pts from 5 games, NRR -1.933
10. Afghanistan - 0pts from 4 games, NRR -1.638

 

LEADING RUN-SCORERS

1: Aaron Finch (Aus) - 343
2: Rohit Sharma (Ind) - 319
3: David Warner (Aus) - 281

 

LEADING WICKET-TAKERS

=1: Mohammad Amir (Pak), Mitchell Starc (Aus) - 13
2: Pat Cummins (Aus) - 11

Newcastle Knights chief executive Philip Gardner has hit out over an "inappropriate" approach for Kalyn Ponga after Michael Cheika reportedly contacted the full-back over a potential code switch.

Ponga has two and half years left on his contract with the Knights, but the Queensland Maroons star is in demand.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has made no secret of his admiration of the Australia-born 21-year-old, who made his New Zealand Maori debut this year.

Wallabies boss Cheika is said to have been in touch with Ponga in a bid to lure him to rugby union, leaving Gardner distinctly unimpressed.

"It's not surprising that rugby union have identified Kalyn as a talent they wish to get their hands on," Gardner said.

"What does come as a surprise is that an official from their code would personally phone our talent despite the fact he has several seasons left to run on his contract.

"It is inappropriate for any contact to be made from rugby union – or anyone else for that matter – and it is extremely disappointing.

"The reality is Kalyn is under contract for another two and a half years with the option for a third year.

"Kalyn is a superb talent and quality person. He is a player we see being part of the Knights fabric for years to come. I can assure not only Knights supporters, but fans of the game, we will be doing everything in our power to sign Kalyn long-term when the time is right."

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg also spoke out over the interest in Ponga.

"Kalyn is a wonderful talent and a fine ambassador for rugby league and the Knights, and it is not surprising that there would be interest in him at the appropriate time." Greenberg said.

"The nature of this interest is certainly unorthodox. Kalyn has a significant period remaining on his contract and it would be disappointing to see any contact made to any player under these circumstances."

India and New Zealand's Cricket World Cup match was abandoned without a ball being bowled on Thursday as the weather caused further disruption. 

Rain throughout the day at Trent Bridge forced the umpires to make the decision to call play off at 15:00 BST.

It is the fourth abandonment at this year's tournament, and the third in four days.

New Zealand are outright leaders on seven points after moving one clear of Australia, while India move third above England, with five points from three matches.

India and New Zealand are ready to put their 100 per cent records on the line on Thursday - but their Cricket World Cup clash could end in soggy fashion at Trent Bridge.

Three straight wins have put New Zealand in a commanding position from which to secure a semi-final place, while India have started with victories over South Africa and Australia.

Yet an inclement forecast suggests the match between the sides risks becoming the latest in this tournament to be washed out, or at least severely hampered by rain.

Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor had an enjoyable spell with Nottinghamshire last season, so on the return to his former home ground he was the ideal candidate to talk about the unpredictability of the British weather.

And that was on Taylor's mind when he arrived in the country with the New Zealand squad, figuring how the World Cup might play out.

"I said at the start of the tournament that luck is going to play a part," Taylor said. "England is a beautiful place, but it's not famous for good weather."

Paceman Tim Southee comes back into contention for New Zealand after missing the early stages of the tournament with a calf complaint.

For India, KL Rahul is set to be pushed up the order to open in place of Shikhar Dhawan, whose satisfaction at making a century against Australia at The Oval last time out was tempered by a thumb injury that looks set to force him out of at least three matches. Vijay Shankar could come in to the middle order.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

New Zealand have beaten Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan so far. India present a greater threat than those early opponents, with both teams hopeful of a deep run in the tournament. India have taken the greater scalps in Australia and South Africa so will look to make another major statement if the rain holds off.

WHAT THEY SAID

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor: "I could mention five or six teams that I think are playing really well, but at the end of the day, we're three for three. Very happy with where we've placed, but we know we've got some bigger challenges ahead the next couple of weeks."

India batting coach Sanjay Bangar, on Rahul moving up the order: "The advantages of playing in various situations is that you understand the game a lot better. If you're a top-order batsman and you get to bat in the middle order, then you get to know the challenges faced by the middle order. So if a player is able to do that - and if you look across the history of the game, players have been very versatile, and here if you can take his namesake Rahul Dravid back at the various positions - it helped the team big time."

OPTA FACTS

- India have won six of their last seven ODIs against New Zealand, including a 35-run victory when they met in February this year – their most recent clash.

- This will be the eighth meeting between India and New Zealand at the World Cup, with six of their previous seven encounters being won by the chasing side on the day. India won three times, New Zealand four.

- New Zealand have won 11 of their last 12 World Cup fixtures - the exception being their loss in the 2015 final - and their last three victories have all come after winning the toss and electing to bowl first.

- Virat Kohli is 57 runs away from becoming the ninth player to score 11,000 ODI runs, Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for being the quickest to reach the milestone at 276 innings, Kohli has played just 221 innings so far.

All Blacks and Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick has signed a new three-year deal with New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

Retallick's extension runs through to 2023 and it includes a two-year stint in Japan following the Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Wednesday.

A 2015 Rugby World Cup winner and 2014 World Player of the Year, Retallick will play in Japan's Top League from 2020 to 2021, with an extended family break in between.

The 28-year-old – who is poised to make his Super Rugby comeback following two months out due to a wrist injury – will then return to New Zealand in May 2021 and play through until the end of the 2023 season.

"It has been a big decision to make, but I'm grateful to be able to have the opportunity to head over to Japan and experience not just the rugby but for my family and to be immersed in another culture," Retallick said.

"I've been playing high-octane rugby with the Gallagher Chiefs and All Blacks since 2012, and while I've loved every minute of it and my workload has been managed well, I've decided to give my body a break from the New Zealand game, so that ultimately I can extend my career here.

"I'm lucky enough to work with a great group of people in both the Chiefs and All Blacks – they're two teams I love to play for – so I look forward to returning in 2021."

A 75-cap New Zealand international, Retallick also re-signed with his home province Hawke's Bay Rugby.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen added: "Having Brodie commit through to the next Rugby World Cup in 2023 is fantastic news for him, his wife Niki and their family, along with New Zealand Rugby.

"Whilst there's a playing sabbatical during that time - and Brodie will no doubt be missed - it also gives the future All Blacks coaches the opportunity to build even more depth in that position. I congratulate NZR on being inventive in their contracting process, as there would have been many offers for him to leave permanently.

"Brodie is one of the best locks to ever play the game, if not the best, and has given his all for the All Blacks jersey year in year out. Under this arrangement he'll extend his career in New Zealand, which is great for everyone."

Nehe Milner-Skudder's hopes of playing in the Rugby World Cup appear to be over after the New Zealand utility-back underwent another shoulder operation.

Hurricanes flyer Milner-Skudder had surgery on his shoulder in October 2017 and suffered a setback while representing the All Blacks against Japan last November.

The 28-year-old will join Toulon following the World Cup, so may have played his last game for his country having gone under the knife again.

Milner-Skudder posted on Instagram: "Halfway through what's been a challenging year.

"There was plenty to work towards and look forward to on the rugby to-do list but unfortunately due to ongoing issues with my shoulder from a prior surgery not going as well we'd hoped, it was the best decision to go under the knife again to get it sorted.

"I've been through 'a few' injuries but this has easily been the toughest one - both physically and mentally. However, I'm not ready to give up anytime soon, love a good challenge and have so much love and support around me.

"Obviously I'm guttered [sic] at how the start of the year has panned out but as the great MLK [Martin Luther King] once said, 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.'"

Milner-Skudder scored six tries in New Zealand's World Cup triumph in England four years ago.

New Zealand international Brodie Retallick is set to make his return for the Chiefs this week after two months out with a wrist injury.

The All Blacks lock tore a tendon in a Super Rugby clash with the Blues in April, ruling him out of a key stretch of the season.

But Retallick is now ready to come back for the Chiefs' final regular season match against the Rebels on Friday, allowing him to build towards the Rugby World Cup later this year.

"It's about time," he said, as reported by Stuff. "It's been a long eight weeks. I'm definitely excited to get back out there against the Rebels.

"It was quite tough watching, especially if we didn't get the result."

Explaining his lay-off, Retallick added: "I went and saw a hand therapist and got a bit of an idea.

"She sent me to a specialist and the specialist said it'd be eight weeks for the tendon to grow where there was a tear. So, it was always going to be eight weeks.

"Obviously last week with the bye was kind of bad timing, because that was the eighth week – I would have been able to play then. But it's given it another week to make sure it is right.

"The eight weeks I used pretty well and got extremely fit and could kind of mentally check out, so I've tried to use it as best I could.

"It has kind of been good in hindsight, especially around my fitness and my body and stuff like that. I don't think fitness should be an issue; thanks to the trainers here, I've just been running up and down the sideline."

The Chiefs are three points behind the Rebels, who occupy the final play-off place, heading into their clash.

Pakistan face two huge matches at the Cricket World Cup this week, including a meeting with their biggest rivals.

Having upset England, Pakistan saw their match against Sri Lanka abandoned, making their potential passage to the semi-finals more difficult.

They will face two big tests this week, firstly against Australia, before taking on India in a highly anticipated clash in Manchester.

Omnisport takes a look at what the next week has in store, along with the standings and key statistics from the tournament to date.

 

FIXTURES

Monday 10 June: South Africa v West Indies (Rose Bowl, Southampton) - 1030 BST start

Tuesday 11 June: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka (County Ground, Bristol) - 1030

Wednesday 12 June: Australia v Pakistan (County Ground, Taunton) - 1030

Thursday 13 June: India v New Zealand (Trent Bridge, Nottingham) - 1030

Friday 14 June: England v West Indies (Rose Bowl, Southampton) - 1030

Saturday 15 June: Sri Lanka v Australia (The Oval, London) - 1030, South Africa v Afghanistan (Sophia Gardens, Cardiff) - 1330

Sunday 16 June: India v Pakistan (Old Trafford, Manchester) - 1030

 

THE WEEK'S BIG GAME

The end of the week is promising to provide one of the biggest matches of the tournament. Rivals India and Pakistan will meet at Old Trafford in Manchester in what looks like a blockbuster encounter. While both will undoubtedly want a win, it could be nearing desperation time for Pakistan, who have one victory from three games and also face Australia this week.

STANDINGS

1. New Zealand - 6pts from 3 games, Net Run Rate +2.163
2. England - 4pts from 3 games, NRR +1.307
3. India - 4pts from 2 games, NRR +0.539
4. Australia - 4pts from 3 games, NRR +0.483
5. Sri Lanka - 3pts from 3 games, NRR -1.517
6. Pakistan - 3pts from 3 games, NRR -2.412
7. West Indies - 2pts from 2 games, NRR +2.054
8. Bangladesh - 2pts from 3 games, NRR -0.714
9. South Africa - 0pts from 3 games, NRR -0.952
10. Afghanistan - 0pts from 3 games, NRR -1.493

 

LEADING RUN-SCORERS

1: Shakib Al Hasan (Ban) - 260
2: Jason Roy (Eng) - 215
3: Jos Buttler (Eng) - 185

 

LEADING WICKET-TAKERS

1: Lockie Ferguson (NZ) - 8
=2: Matt Henry (NZ), Mitchell Starc (Aus) - 7

Kane Williamson praised Jimmy Neesham and Lockie Ferguson for setting up New Zealand's emphatic seven-wicket Cricket World Cup win over Afghanistan.

The Black Caps made it three wins out of three in the tournament in Taunton on Saturday after Afghanistan were skittled out for 172.

Neesham (5-31) claimed his maiden five-wicket ODI haul and Ferguson took 4-37 to become the leading wicket-taker in the World Cup with eight dismissals.

Captain Williamson then struck an unbeaten 79 and Ross Taylor made 48 after Aftab Alam (3-45) had got rid of Martin Guptill off the first ball of the innings.

Williamson reflected on a job well done on a painful day for Afghanistan, who were without Rashid Khan in the field after he was struck by a rapid short ball from Ferguson.

"It was an outstanding win. They have a few world-class players, they got off to a very good start, but we stuck to our plans, [it's] great to see the way the seamers came back," said the skipper.

"Lockie is a fast bowler, his role is to bowl fast. It doesn't need much encouragement to get him up. He's made a big difference because of the left-arm right-arm combination.

"Neesham was superb as well, there was pace and movement and he used the conditions well. My form has been alright, just doing a job for the team.

"We've now chased three games in a row. It's great to win every game you play. We've got a couple of days off, which the guys will look forward to before we play India in a few days' time."

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