AB de Villiers waits to launch another big hit against Bangladesh on Thursday. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix
AB de Villiers waits to launch another big hit against Bangladesh on Thursday. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix
Andile Phehlukwayo regained control for the Proteas with the ball. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix
Andile Phehlukwayo regained control for the Proteas with the ball. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

In the end, the margin of victory suggested yet another comfortable stroll in the park for South Africa.

But those who saw it know that Bangladesh roused themselves and gave the Proteas a genuine scare before going down by 20 runs in the first of two T20 Internationals on Thursday night at Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein.

It took a level head from the youngest member of the Proteas’ attack – Andile Phehlukwayo – to settle some jitters with the ball as Bangladesh sought to mow down the daunting target of 196 that faced them.

No one expected them to get even close, but the frightful start they made showed that they had every intention to poop the party in Bloemfontein.

Dane Paterson’s very first ball of the innings was drilled over mid-off for four as the Tigers came out swinging.

In a way, it was exactly what the South Africans had done when JP Duminy had won the toss and elected to bat first on a belter of a track.

Hashim Amla was bowled for three, cramped for room, but that allowed AB de Villiers to come in and make the most dazzling 49 you will see this year.

He scorched drives and leant on sweeps with a minimum of fuss as he looked on his way to a maiden T20 international century.

There was no excess energy expended on any stroke as De Villiers’ purity of striking sent gasps across stands and beyond. When he fell, it was to the first stroke that he tried to actually smash, but lost his timing.

It had been some onslaught as he and Quinton de Kock added 79 in 51 balls. The lefty eventually notched his best score in this format, before he was brilliantly adjudged leg-before by umpire Shaun George.

The officials are often chastised for any mistake they make, but George’s assessment of the De Kock dismissal was absolutely spot-on.

When Duminy also fell, the Proteas were suddenly stuttering. Cue David Miller (25 off 19 balls) and Farhaan Behardien (36 off 17 balls), who bludgeoned 62 off the last five overs.

Miller was not as destructive as he might have liked, but Behardien played two of the shots of the evening in his unbeaten cameo.

One was a six over extra cover, and the next was a nonchalant flick over square leg, and deep into the stands.

For those who didn’t know it, the Titans man can finish off an innings.

Quinton de Kock top-scored with 59 for the Proteas. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

With the ball in hand, South Africa would have banked on defending 196, but they were given a solid skrik as Soumya (47) helped the tourists blitz to 43 in the first four overs.

But he didn’t get nearly enough support, and it was only Saifuddin (39 not out) who kept them interested until the last few overs.

Phehlukwayo, with 2/25, came and controlled the middle overs, bowling straight and full.

Paterson, who took some tap upfront, bounced back with two scalps in a row towards the end as he finished with 2/29.

Debutant Robbie Frylinck took some early tap as he quickly saw that the margins are even smaller at the highest level.

But like Paterson, he also bounced back, and got his maiden international wickets. His first was Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, smartly caught by De Villiers on the run.

South Africa’s catching under lights was a treat, and it was that slickness in the field that kept their noses in front.

In the end, Bangladesh’s chase fizzled out, but they certainly contributed fully to an evening of good entertainment.

Roll on Potchefstroom.

 

IOL Sport