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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiwis Close to Finals With Tough Victory

SYDNEY -- New Zealand virtually clinched a place in the World Series Cup cricket finals when it beat Australia by 13 runs in a thrilling but ill-tempered match.


New Zealand, rescued from 40 for 3 by Ken Rutherford (65) and Mark Greatbatch (50), scored 198 for 9 from its 50 overs and dismissed Australia for 185 with nine deliveries remaining Tuesday.


The victory means South Africa, currently third in, must win its remaining two games by big margins while hoping other results go its way to enable it to squeeze into the best-of-three finals against Australia at New Zealand's expense.


The New Zealanders' success in the day-night match was marked by controversy involving their captain Rutherford, who shared a crucial fourth-wicket stand of 89 with Greatbatch. Rutherford was on 31 when he appeared to give a return catch to leg spinner Shane Warne.


The Australians appealed vociferously but umpire Stephen Davis ruled that Rutherford had hit the ball into the ground on the half-volley. Rutherford stood his ground while Border spoke to Davis about his ruling, one of several questionable decisions during the game.


"Everyone in the ground knew he was out except the umpire," Border told reporters afterwards.


Rutherford said he waited for the umpire's decision because he was unsure if the catch was legitimate.


"I have played against a lot of Australian sides and they are not particularly noted for their walking," Rutherford said.


Gavin Larsen and Richard de Groen added 30 vital runs to give New Zealand's total respectability.


The match threatened to boil over several times. Greatbatch twice confronted Dean Jones, having narrowly missed the batsman with two return throws to the wicketkeeper. Rutherford, while praising Greatbatch's aggression, told him to calm.


"I thought what Mark did was a little over the top but it is a good sign that we are starting to feel confident enough to throw some sledging and aggression back at the Australians," Rutherford said.


Pace bowler Chris Pringle was man of the match by snaring 4 wickets from 9.3 overs for 40 runs.


His victims included opener David Boon, who threatened to carry Australia to victory before being bowled for 67 with the total on 166.


Australia, which has already qualified for the finals, lost its last five wickets for just 21 runs.