In their ODI history, South Africa has had a few close tussles. During the Carlton and United Series in 1997, South Africa had one such thriller – against the Kiwis in Hobart, Tasmania. South Africa fielded a star-studded team. The starting eleven was Hansie Cronje, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Gary Kirsten, Lance Klusener, Pat Symcox, Jonty Rhodes, Dave Richardson and Brian McMillan. New Zealand had a few recognisable names, including Stephen Fleming, Nathan Astle, Adam Parore, Daniel Vettori and Roger Twose. South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first.
South Africa had a poor start; Shane O’Connor, opening the bowling for the Kiwis, sent the opener back to the pavilion for six runs. Herschelle Gibbs and Lance Klusener had a 27-run partnership before O’Connor struck again, removing Gibbs for 12 runs. Off-spinner Pat Symcox entered the fray as a pinch-hitter. The portly spinner lasted 25 balls before he departed for 15; South Africa was 71/3. New Zealand struck a crucial double-blow when they dismissed Hansie Cronje and lance Klusener to leave the South Africans on 73/5.
The Proteas slipped to 99/6 before Jacques Kallis (45) and Shaun Pollock (31) staged a recovery that took South Africa past the 150-mark. Kallis departed with the score on 153, but Pollock managed to add valuable runs that helped the Proteas close on 174/9 after 50 overs. Shane O’Connor, Chris Cairns and Chris Harris took two wickets each for the Kiwis. Cairns, with 2/26 off ten overs was also the most economical bowler for New Zealand.
If South Africa had a bad start, New Zealand’s effort was even worse. Matt Horne and Nathan Astle were back in the pavilion with just six runs on the board. Chris Cairns (29) scored a brisk 27 to take the score to 45 before he departed. New Zealand appeared to be going steady at 83/3, but suffered a mid-innings collapse that had them spiralling downwards at 111/7. However, Chris Harris and Daniel Vettori halted the slide and kept the Kiwis in the game.
Harris scored an unbeaten 37 runs and Vettori an unbeaten 25 runs. The pair batted responsibly to take the game into the final over. Despite their unbeaten 62-run partnership, the Kiwis fell two runs short of the target and one run short of the South African total. Lance Klusener earned the player-of-the-match award for his fine all-round performance. That result helped South Africa to advance to the best-of-three finals, which South Africa won 2-1.