New Zealand was unable to score six runs off the last over against South Africa who skipped away with three runs victory in the third and final Twenty20 which was remained electrified until last ball of the match.
The Proteas punched reasonable 165 runs after losing seven wickets in the required quota of 20 overs and the Black Caps middle order was unable to reach the target and surrendered at 162 for the loss of seven wickets.
Johan Botha was declared ’Player of the match’ for his economical spell in the final overs of the match.
The match was played on February 22, 2012, at Eden Park, Auckland and the home crowd witnessed a fully charged game.
The Kiwis won the toss and elected to field first while preferring to chase as they had back in their mind the humiliation they suffered in the second T20. Richard Levi created a world record against them by punching ton off just 45 balls while chasing and the match was lost by the hosts.
South Africa had a dismal start when three of their top order batsmen were sent back to the pavilion for 59 runs off 7.1 overs. Captain AB de Villiers and Jean-Paul-Duminy took charge by counterattacking the rival bowling and the runs rate was escalated. Duminy was more attacking of the two but became the third victim for 38 off 23 balls with two sixes and even fours.
The fourth wicket was gone at 121 runs and de Villiers was bowled by Rob Nicol for 29 with the addition of eight runs. Wayne Parnell played a hurried knock of 22 on 17 balls with one six and two fours as 165 runs were posted for the loss of seven wickets in 20 overs.
Nicol and Tim Southee became the top wicket takers with two each, James Franklin and Doug Bracewell claimed one wicket each.
New Zealand openers Nicol and Martin Guptill initiated the innings bravely and at least two boundaries were dispatched from second over onwards. The duo smashed 55 runs at the end of the fifth over and was cruising along well when Nicol lost his wicket for 33 on 19 balls with one six and 5 fours.
The openers laid a solid foundation by scoring 65 runs in six overs but Guptill was gone for 26 after eight runs were added in the total. Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum joined together and the march towards the atrget was carried on. The third wicket was lost when McCullum was caught behind by de Villiers off Robin Pieterson for 18 as the total was raised to 112 in 12 overs.
Ryder lashed at the rival bowlers and the run rate kept on rising but no support was found at the other end and the wickets started falling one after another. Ryder got a lucky break when he was dropped at 49 on the last ball of the 18th over which resulted in his fifty.
South Africa came back to the match when Ryder was caught by Morne Morkal on the bowling of Botha for 52 off two huge sixes and 5 fours. That was the fifth wicket for the Proteas at the score of 158 in 18.5 overs and the Black Caps required just six runs to win the match in the last over.
The young Merchant de Lange was handed over the ball to deliver the last magical over who was playing his second T20. He gave away one run on two deliveries and secured a wicket on the third as Nathan McCullum skied up the ball and was caught smartly by de Villiers behind the wickets. Bracewell came in next and that turned out to be a game of nerves as he became panicked and was caught by Hashim Amla at point.
The sixth ball was a no ball and one run was scored off that and the last ball resulted in to a free hit which was incapacitated as no run was possible. New Zealand managed 162 runs with three wickets in hand at the closure of 20th over.
M de Lange, Morkal and Botha grasped two wickets each and Peterson chipped in with one wicket.
South Africa won the absorbing encounter by three runs and clinched the three match series 2-1.