The BLACKCAPS have been narrowly beaten by South Africa in their second warm-up match of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at Colts Cricket Ground in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Chasing 186 for victory, the BLACKCAPS fell ten runs short at 177 for eight. Despite the loss, the match saw a number of New Zealand players find form, as well as a spectacular innings from captain Ross Taylor.
The batting line-up had a new look to it, with James Franklin opening and Rob Nicol coming in at five.
Run-rate wasn’t an issue for the BLACKCAPS at the beginning of the innings, as they jumped to 48 for two off five overs. Loss of wickets was a concern though, with both Martin Guptill (8) and Brendon McCullum (9) going cheaply.
When Franklin (12) fell to Albie Morkel the BLACKCAPS were struggling at 49 for three. Captain Ross Taylor remained in the middle with Nicol, but found runs were hard to come by.
At the end of the 13th over the required run-rate had reached 12.28. Taylor though brought it back down to 10.20 in dramatic fashion. The 28 year-old struck four of his seven sixes within eight balls and successfully put the BLACKCAPS back in a position to win the game.
Taylor eventually fell for 75 after 15.3 overs, with his side needing 44 off 27 balls. His innings came off 42 balls and was part of 94 run fourth wicket partnership with Nicol.
Progress stalled following his dismissal though and with two overs to go The BLACKCAPS required 26 runs with six wickets in hand.
Dale Steyn had Nathan McCullum (14), Nicol (37) and Doug Bracewell (4) all caught in the penultimate over, leaving too much for the lower order to do in the final six deliveries.
In the end New Zealand were nine runs shy of South Africa’s total. Steyn finished with match best figures of four for 25.
Earlier in the match South Africa had got off to a quick start by racing to 47 without loss after five overs. Adam Milne broke through for the BLACKCAPS when he had Faf du Plesis caught behind by BJ Watling on 24.
Richard Levi went under similar circumstances, before Hashim Amla fell to Rob Nicol just three balls later. With two new batsmen at the crease the run-rate began to slow.
South Africa though went on to rebuild their innings through captain AB de Villiers and JP Duminy. The pair put on 62 for the fourth wicket and put their side in a position to push on to a big score.
James Franklin gave the BLACKCAPS a timely wicket, dismissing Duminy for 30 in the 16th over.
However South Africa went on to finish with a flourish, as de Villiers brought up 54 from 30 deliveries and Farhaan Behardien (24*) and Albie Morkel (15*) both cleared the boundary late in the innings.
At the end of 20 overs South Africa had posted a total of 186 for six.
For the second match in a row Milne ended with the BLACKCAPS best bowling figures, claiming two for 26 off four overs.
The team will next play on Thursday in their first official match of the tournament against Bangladesh.