South African captain Faf du Plessis admitted that the Proteas “are making it hard for ourselves” but still managed to find a silver lining in the narrow victory over the Netherlands here yesterday.
The Proteas limped to a six-run win, due mainly to their bowling unit holding their collective nerve to squeeze the European minnows at crucial times in their run chase.
Former Northerns batsman Stefan Myburgh led the Netherlands’ pursuit of South Africa’s 145/9 with a rapid half-century.
While the stocky left-hander was at the crease, depositing particularly Lonwabo Tsotsobe to all parts of the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, it was hard to imagine that the Dutch were rolled over for a record low 39 in their previous game against Sri Lanka. Instead they resembled the giant-killers that had slayed England at Lord’s in 2009 and miraculously qualified for this Super 10 with a superb performance against Ireland in the qualifying stages.
South Africa certainly were not playing at their full potential and it showed for large parts of this game as they first struggled with the bat before Imran Tahir (4/19) had to pull out his full bag of tricks to keep the Proteas not only in the game, but the tournament as a whole.
“For our side that is trying to win the WT20, this is not good enough. I think we are making it hard for ourselves. They got off to a flying start and we did well to pull them back in the end,” said Du Plessis.
“This is a good sign though, when your side is not playing at 100 percent and still you manage to get over the line. We were just at 50 to 60 percent here. We were poor. We started off well with the bat. Then we lost our way in the middle.”
But like against New Zealand in the previous game, Du Plessis had his bowlers to thank for keeping his team from getting burnt.
It was not only birthday boy Tahir’s heroics, but also Dale Steyn once again keeping the runs to a minimum, Tsotsobe finishing well after being under the pump in his first two overs and then rookie Beuran Hendricks closing the game by claiming the last Dutch wicket to fall.
“Credit to some good bowling, though. Dale Steyn and Tahir bowled well and Hendricks gave good support – and the Netherlands played some fantastic cricket. They were in control for 70 percent of the game and should have won,” Du Plessis admitted.
The victory propelled the Proteas into second position behind Sri Lanka on the Group 1 table, but owing to their slender margin of victory the net run-rate climbed to only +0.050.
Despite Sri Lanka losing to England in a thrilling late game last night, their net run-rate remains very good at +2.199.
Both Sri Lanka and South Africa have played three games and only have one match remaining compared to their other Group 1 rivals who have played a match less.
South Africa’s last group match is the all-important affair against England here tomorrow, while Sri Lanka contests the potential group decider against New Zealand only on Monday.
Tahir will again be the central figure against an England side that have struggled against spin on the subcontinent, although the 2010 World T20 champions will take confidence from opener Alex Hales’s T20 century last night against the likes of Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake.
The Pakistani-born leg-spinner, though, was not willing to share on what he has hidden up his sleeve for the English, only saying that self-confidence was the key to helping him to the top of the wicket-takers list in this tournament.
“I am not going to tell you what I’ve been thinking. I’ve got clear plans what to do to each batsman. Thanks to the technology we can watch with our computer analysis guy. A clear plan, that’s the word, and back yourself. I know my plans and what to do on wickets like this. It’s been going my way and I’ve been working hard,” Tahir explained. - The Star