NZ head into World Cup with comfortable win over South Africa

Thursday, 12 February 2015 01:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REUTERS: New Zealand will head into their opening cricket World Cup encounter on Saturday oozing confidence after they completed their preparations with a 134-run victory over South Africa on Wednesday. Brendon McCullum’s side have emerged as third favourites for the Feb. 14-March 29 tournament, behind Australia and AB de Villiers’ side, after a run of good performances at home over the last month. Kane Williamson top scored for the World Cup co-hosts with 66 from 53 balls while McCullum blasted 59 from 45 deliveries in their score of 331 for eight off 50 overs. New Zealand’s bowlers then ripped through South Africa’s top order, reducing them to 31-4 in the seventh over and 62-6 in the 14th at Hagley Oval in Christchurch before JP Duminy and Vernon Philander combined for some batting practice. They put on 121 runs with Duminy scoring 80, while pace bowler Philander scored 57, but the pair seemed more content to bat out the overs rather than chase down the total and South Africa were eventually dismissed for 197 in 44.2 overs. Left-arm seamer Trent Boult took three of the first four wickets before he finished with 5-51 from 9.2 overs, while wily left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori dismissed world record holder de Villiers for 24 and Wayne Parnell for four to finish with 2-29 from seven overs. Both sides, who were allowed to use all 15 players in their squads, treated the match as a final contested training run, with South African spearhead Dale Steyn not bowling at all. New Zealand’s Tom Latham took over the wicketkeeping gloves from Luke Ronchi, who did bat in New Zealand’s innings. New Zealand will open the tournament at the same venue against Sri Lanka on Saturday while South Africa travel to Hamilton for their opening clash against Zimbabwe on Sunday.