Cape Town: Herschelle Gibbs hit a majestic century as South Africa cruised to a series-clinching five-wicket win in the third and final one-day international against New Zealand at Newlands Sunday.
Gibbs made 119 off 101 balls as South Africa chased down New Zealand's 238 for eight with 28 balls to spare.
Playing on his home ground, Gibbs raced to fifty off 40 balls and reached his 19th one-day international century off 77 deliveries with ten fours and six sixes.
Gibbs took the attack to the New Zealand bowlers from the start, hitting two boundaries in each of Mark Gillespie's first two overs, then lifting Kyle Mills for a straight six. Gillespie was replaced by Jacob Oram and Gibbs hit his first ball for another six.
Gibbs slowed down after reaching his century but there was one more six before he top-edged a sweep against New Zealand captain and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori to be caught at deep midwicket.
Gibbs dominated an opening partnership of 173 with captain Graeme Smith. When he reached his century the total was 136 and Smith was on 29.
While Gibbs made batting look ridiculously easy, Smith battled his way to 51, surviving chances on 23 and 44. Smith was playing despite a scan which showed he had an enlarged spleen after contracting a virus on a tour of Pakistan in October.
New Zealand hit back after Smith was caught at deep midwicket off Vettori, with Gibbs following four overs later, to be followed quickly by AB de Villiers and JP Duminy. Four wickets fell for 18 runs. Vettori was mainly responsible for the slump, taking three for 33.
Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher steadied the South African innings, putting on 46 before Kallis chased a wide ball and was caught behind off part-time bowler Lou Vincent with only two needed to win.
New Zealand struggled early in their innings after winning the toss.
Fast bowler Dale Steyn, playing in his first match of the series, dismissed both opening batsmen cheaply and were 79 for four after 22 overs before Scott Styris (60) and Mathew Sinclair (73) led a recovery.
Styris and Sinclair put on 49 for the fifth wicket. Sinclair then shared stands of 56 with Oram and 43 with Kyle Mills as the Black Caps reached a competitive total.
Steyn, who took 20 wickets in two Tests against New Zealand last month, quickly had the dangerous Brendon McCullum caught at cover for nought and then bowled Lou Vincent with a slower yorker.
Shaun Pollock bowled economically while Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt maintained the early pressure before Styris and Sinclair came together. Pollock conceded only 26 runs in ten overs - the third successive game in which he gave up fewer than 30 runs - but ended the series without a wicket.
Both Styris and Sinclair had escapes. Styris edged a no-ball from Langeveldt to wicketkeeper Boucher when he had 33 while Sinclair was dropped by Boucher off Pollock on 26.