DURBAN – He doesn’t half mind a chase under lights at Kingsmead, does South Africa’s all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo.
If there were barbs made towards him, he certainly didn’t allow them to distract him from the job at hand on Tuesday night, as he lifted the Proteas to a five-wicket win over Pakistan.
“I was very happy to get a chance to get the team out of a situation like that, and take them home. It was similar to the partnership I had with David Miller (against Australia) a few years ago here. I definitely love playing on this ground,” Phehlukwayo said.
80/5 is not a position that South Africa would have wanted to be in, chasing 205 to level the five-match one-day international series. However, it turned out to be a great place for a litmus test for the all-rounder, as well as the recently picked No 3 Rassie van der Dussen.
Needing 124 to win, that middle order passed Tuesday’s test. For Phehlukwayo, being there at the end meant a lot.
“It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that anyone in the team can win us the game with bat or ball. I put a lot of pressure on myself to contribute with bat or ball, and it was nice to contribute out there,” he added.
Career-best figures and then a highest ever score is a bit more than just contributing, and Phehlukwayo had a big grin on his face.
“I think batting with Rassie definitely took a lot of pressure off me. He kept me going, telling me to worry about one game at a time. Without Rassie there, it would have been really tough. He played an incredible knock,” Phehlukwayo pointed out.
To the raw power that he has always had, he has added a modicum of control. There were dabs to third man, using the pace and the spin.
And, also, there were plenty of reverse sweeps.
“For me, it is not a risky option. I played hockey at school, so I just keep my eye on the ball, and it is one of my options,” Phehlukwayo said.
To emphasise the point, he got to his first half-century with a reverse sweep. It is not a shot that he is about to put away anytime soon, and it seems to work.
“It was tough upfront, and the ball was turning a lot,” he said of walking out to face Shadab Khan. “I think that is the best performance I have delivered so far for the national team. I am glad the hard work that I have been doing behind the scenes paid off. Yes, there was some luck involved.”
If Sarfraz Ahmed was trying to remind him of that luck, the Pakistan wicket-keeper and skipper might have been better served doing so in English.
The chirp went straight past Phehlukwayo, and he didn’t even have to reverse sweep it out of the way.
Much Urdu about nothing, then.
Meanwhile, Highveld Lions left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks has been added to the Proteas squad for the last three ODIs.
Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn also return to the squad, while Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson and Heinrich Klaasen are the three players to drop out.@whamzam17