Johannesburg: Herschelle Gibbs hammered a century as South Africa made an imposing 306 for six in its crucial World Cup match against New Zealand at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday. Gibbs hit 143 off 141 balls as South Africa took advantage of winning the toss on a good batting pitch. Gibbs had some luck early on, particularly against the lively swing bowling of Andre Adams, who shared the new ball with Shane Bond, before unleashing his full array of shots to roars of approval from a packed crowd in the 30,000-seater stadium.
He hit 19 fours and three sixes before being caught on the mid-wicket boundary off medium-pacer Jacob Oram. There were good partnerships throughout the South African innings, which was launched by a stand of 60 in the first ten overs between Gibbs and left-hander Graeme Smith, playing his first match of the tournament after replacing the injured Jonty Rhodes. Smith made 23 after being caught at second slip off a no-ball from Bond in the first over before he had scored.
It was tough going for the New Zealand bowlers, with only Scott Styris, who took one for 44 in ten overs, managing to keep the batsmen in check while Jacob Oram took two for 52 but both of his wickets were to catches in the deep. It is an important match for both sides, with both having already suffered defeats.
New Zealand in particular could be in danger of failing to qualify for the Super Six stage if it loses here and forfeit points because of its refusal to play against Kenya in Nairobi. South Africa's total was only four short of the record here of 310 for eight established by Australia against Pakistan on Tuesday, while Gibbs' score equalled the highest at the ground set by Andrew Symonds of Australia in the same match.