There’s something about the Proteas and New Zealand expats.
In 2015, former SA Under-19 player Grant Elliott famously denied his country of birth a first World Cup final.
On Wednesday evening, Colin de Grandhomme – a former Zimbabwe Under-19 stalwart – in all likelihood condemned South Africa to a pretty meaningless 2019 campaign.
The burly all-rounder cracked a brutal, unbeaten 60 off just 47 balls, enabling the Black Caps to clinch a four-wicket victory in Birmingham on Wednesday evening.
This blockbuster knock was the perfect complement to skipper Kane Williamson’s classy, unbeaten 103.
More pertinently, it means Faf du Plessis and his men have no lost four of their six matches and languishing in eighth position on the points table.
On a Edgbaston pitch where the majority of the batsmen struggled to master its slowness, the 32-year-old middled virtually every shot he played, knocking the stuffing out of a Proteas bowling effort that looked so promising.
Indeed, they had reduced the New Zealanders to 80/4 and later 137/5 after setting a mediocre target of 242.
There was an element of luck though as Andile Phehlukwayo had claimed the dangerous Martin Guptill’s (35) wicket after the opener tread onto his stumps, while Chris Morris – who delivered a profitable spell of 3/49 – took the key scalp of Ross Taylor from a rank leg-side delivery that was feathered to Quinton de Kock.
However, the saying goes that sometimes you make your own luck and the disciplined attack certainly deserved some reward.
But they simply couldn’t dislodge the classy Williamson, who rode his luck during a 138-ball innings.
It was hardly a fluent innings yet the application was magnificent.
In fact, the silky right-hander should’ve been out off Imran Tahir’s final delivery when replays revealed he’d gotten a bottom edge to prod.
Tahir appealed but De Kock didn’t and the Proteas didn’t go for a review.
That was the third of three chances in that over, with David Miller being unable to cling onto the other two difficult catching opportunities.
From there, the South African fielding totally collapsed.
Miller missed a Williamson run out when he dislodged the bails before gathering the ball; Lungi Ngidi dropped De Grandhomme off a Phehlukwayo beamer (it was adjudged a no-ball anyway); and another catchable chance ended up in a boundary after Miller let the ball bounce and Kagiso Rabada dived to mop up, only to miss the ball.
It was all so gut-wrenching.
Earlier, the Proteas produced an improved batting performance without showing much attacking intent.
Hashim Amla finally made a score of substance, but his 55 off 83 was hardly fluent.
It was left to the increasingly valuable Rassie van der Dussen to carry the latter stages of the batting effort.
His unbeaten 67 off 64 wasn’t perfect, but it gave his team a chance they should’ve tried to make better use of.