South Africa 170/6 (Duminy 86*, Amla 41)
New Zealand 168/8 (Taylor 62, Steyn 4/17, Tahir 2/26)
South Africa win by 2 runs
Chittagong - South Africa are clearly not going to do boring at this World Twenty20. Whether it is in defeat or like Monday night’s sensational victory over New Zealand, be prepared to go on a rollercoaster ride of emotions with this Proteas team.
And on this journey villains and heroes will emerge. On Monday night, in this portside city in one of the most challenging countries in the world, two young South Africans in JP Duminy and Dale Steyn took on the responsibility of getting their team over that much sought after magical line.
That line – better known as victory – has been like the Berlin Wall for the Proteas to dismantle. Valiant attempts have been made so often in the past, most recently last Saturday here against Sri Lanka, and especially at major ICC tournaments where they have been left to nurse the wounds of falling short on numerous occasions.
But not on Monday night. It was a night of joy for this group as Steyn proved yet again that he sits comfortably in the pantheon of the greatest fast bowlers that has ever hurled that round piece of leather across 22 yards. He has done it numerous times in the Test arena, picking South Africa off the canvas and getting the team up to deliver that knockout punch.
There are critics, though, that believe the world’s premier fast bowler has not delivered on his immense talents consistently in the shorter formats, especially at the death, when compared with others like Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga.
That debate is officially over after Steyn dug deep to maintain his composure in a thrilling final over that started with New Zealand requiring a mere seven runs for victory and the powerful Ross Taylor still at the crease.
For once South Africa were the team to initiate the dreaded choke with Steyn bowling at high pace, executing his plans to perfection, and being backed up by some brilliant catching from Quinton de Kock behind the stumps and captain Faf du Plessis at mid-off in the final over.
Superheroes don’t leave their work for others to finish though, and now even with Taylor facing the final delivery with three required for the win and two for the match to be sent into a Super Over, Steyn sent a searing delivery wide of the off stump that the former Kiwi captain could only manage to bunt straight back at him, leaving the pumped-up fast bowler to collect the catch and smash into the LED stumps to set off wild celebrations within the SA camp.
“We are a very happy team. Dale Steyn proved why he’s been the best fast bowler in the world for a long time,” Proteas captain Du Plessis said of his trump card, who finished with figures of 4/17.
“I thought New Zealand got themselves in a position where they should have won the game and something special was required for us to try and get away.
“But I had the confidence in that I knew Dale was bowling well. His plans were really good and we wanted to leave eight runs at least for him. I knew that anything over eight would be tough. New Zealand got it down to seven, but when you start like that, with three dot balls you feel like you have a chance and also we didn’t want Taylor on strike and we did exactly that.”
Taylor’s power hitting – he smashed the out-of-sorts Morné Morkel for three sixes in a row – mixed with Kane Williamson’s surprisingly free-spirited innings had set up the game nicely for the Kiwis, with the Black Caps requiring 55 off 40 balls with eight wickets intact at one stage and later 29 runs off three overs.
At that stage it seemed that Duminy’s most important innings for the Proteas at a major tournament was going to be inconsequential. That would have been a travesty of justice, though, for the diminutive left-hander had taken South Africa from the edge of the exit door at 43/3 and pushed them to a competitive total with an intoxicating mix of innovation and class in his unbeaten 86.
“JP played a fantastic knock. He played very well, took risks and as a blueprint for a T20 innings, it was one of the finest innings. It’s a fantastic win for us but we were humble in our victory tonight. We have got a long way to go,” Du Plessis added.