Dubai - IOL Sports' Zaahier Adams, who is in the UAE courtesy of Emirates Airlines, picks five things we have learnt from the Proteas crucial T20 World Cup victory over Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Saturday.
1. Tabraiz Shamsi
Shamsi is the No 1 T20 bowler in the world for a reason. The left-arm wrist-spinner showed off his bouncebackability with excellent figures of 3/17 that earned him the Player of the Match award. "I don't think there was much turn in it, to be honest. I think you have to really focus on the areas that you hit and be really hard on yourself on that. I think just focusing on the right lengths and the right areas to hit, that's all I was focusing on," he said after the game.
2. Dwaine Pretorius
South Africa's new go-to man with the ball at the death, Pretorius has surprised all and sundry with his coolness during the latter stages. He has bounced back from not defending those eight runs in the final over against Australia in the opening game with consecutive three-wicket hauls against the West Indies and Sri Lanka. He has shown good skill with the usage of slower balls and cutters, while also executing his game plans to perfection. "If we had to give out an award for Scholar of the Team, it would be Dwaine Pretorius," Shamsi said. "He wants to make sure he is well prepared and he is always working with our analyst. We can't speak enough about the job he did for us at the end. The game was so close. It's turned out that he has become our death bowling specialist and he has done a great job."
3. Temba Bavuma
The skipper has had not only keep his own emotions in check this week, but also that of the team whilst working out a way to score runs. When he eventually did against Sri Lanka, he was criticized for doing it too slowly in his new position of No 4. However, on that sluggish track in Sharjah, the Proteas required somebody who could bat in a sensible manner and keep it all together. The only real criticism should be that he did not take it home once he went deep, but Bavuma knows that. "I took on the responsibility to finish it off and the wicket wasn't an easy one but someone had to take it till the end. The shot was on and I was a bit irritated with myself that I wasn't able to execute," the skipper said.
Everyone knows David Miller can do it. He just doesn't do it as often as everyone would like. But in Sharjah, "Millertime" was back with a vengeance as he slogged two out of the ground in the final over to take South Africa over the line. The Proteas' most experienced T20 batter will take plenty of confidence from that finish in terms of this could finally be his chance to shine. "I was a bit tense but I had confidence in David, he hadn't done in a long time for us to credit to him. He's got one of the most beautiful swings, like a golf swing," Bavuma said.
5. South Africa's fielding
This team is slowly starting to rebuild the Proteas' once-famed reputation as one of the best fielding sides in the world. While it was admittedly an Achilles Heel in the recent past, this group of players are working exceptionally hard with fielding coach Justin Ontong to restore the standards. They have been exceptional thus far at this T20 World Cup and are certainly buzzing and filled with energy whenever they step over the rope.