Albie Morkel inspires South Africa win over Kiwis

BRIDGETOWN: Albie Morkel''s quickfire 40 helped take South Africa to a comfortable 13 run win in their opening Super Eights match against New Zealand at the World Twenty20 here on Thursday.

His innings at the Kensington Oval lasted just 18 balls but still featured five sixes and helped South Africa pile up a total of 170 for four.

Together with AB de Villiers, who finished on 47 not out, he shared a stand of 72 in six overs as they built on a solid foundation laid by the top order.

De Villiers faced 39 balls with two sixes and a four. New Zealand rarely looked like threatening South Africa''s score, finishing on 157 for seven.

"The key for me is to keep my shape, it was a short boundary down the ground and also with the wind, so it worked in my favour," man-of-the-match Albie Morkel explained at the post-match presentation.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith added: "We played smart cricket, Albie made the most of his opportunity, and his partnership with AB could have been the turning point." His New Zealand counterpart, Daniel Vettori, was in no doubt though.

"De Villiers and Morkel played well, we missed a couple of chances but let them get too much," Vettori said.

"You needed to be inch-perfect with guys like Morkel hitting at the death, but we were a little off. We need guys at the top to play 40-50 balls to have a chance of chasing down this target."

South Africa off-spinner Johan Botha justified his recall in place of left-armer Roeof van der Merwe with a tight spell of two wickets for 23 runs in three overs which saw him dismiss Martin Guptill (18) and innings top scorer Jesse Ryder (33).

Herschelle Gibbs also contributed on his return to the side, after coming in for Loots Bosman, with an attractive 30 and two superb catches to get rid of New Zealand dangerman Brendon McCullum, in the first over, and Ross Taylor.

New Zealand required 36 from 12 balls and then 27 from six.

Smith then brought on Albie Morkel for his only over of the match and he was promptly hoisted over deep square leg by Vettori for four.

However, Albie Morkel kept his head and the target became an impossible 22 off three balls.

Earlier, the all-rounder was equally adept at striking left-arm spinner Vettori over long-off for six or depositing paceman Tim Southee for three sixes in an over.

South Africa, who won the toss, saw Smith open alongside Jacques Kallis.

The pair shared a first wicket stand of 40 before Smith holed out to deep midwicket for 14.

And 40 for one became 55 for two when Kallis, who made 31, was brilliantly caught by a diving Southee at third man after uppercutting Jacob Oram.

Both Group E rivals continue their bid for a semi-final spot here on Saturday when New Zealand face defending champions Pakistan and South Africa play England, who beat Pakistan by six wickets earlier on Thursday.