David Miller masterclass and Proteas spin twins seal Ireland T20I series
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CAPE TOWN – The Proteas may not be playing the most attractive brand of cricket at the moment, but they are finding ways to win cricket matches.
Considering the base they were working from that saw them become habitual losers over the past two years, it is a major step in the right direction with the T20 World Cup fast approaching.
Temba Bavuma's team clinched their successive T20I series win on Thursday night with a 42-run victory over Ireland on a scorching day in Belfast.
That result seemed a million miles away at the start of this contest with Paul Sterling's part-time spin reducing the visitors to 0/2 within the first over. Both Bavuma and Janneman Malan fell for ducks in identical fashion - caught at short third-man.
The Proteas slipped further into the quagmire, with Ireland reducing the visitors to 58/5 at the halfway stage, before David Miller turned the game on its head with a T20 masterclass of 75 off just 44 balls. Miller clubbed four boundaries and five sixes, which included four maximums off Josh Little's final over, helping to lift the Proteas to a competitive 159/7.
Miller received support from recalled all-rounder Wiaan Mulder (36 off 26 balls), while Quinton de Kock (27 off 20 balls) was the only top-order batsman to make any form of contribution.
Ireland's capitulation at the death with the ball set the tone for their batting innings once again, with the hosts producing a successive dismal showing against the Proteas spinners.
World No 1 T20 bowler Tabraiz Shamsi was again at the forefront with another excellent return of 3/14. Shamsi was without his regular spin partner George Linde on Thursday, but the result was the same with Bjorn Fortuin showing off South Africa's vast spin bowling depth.
Fortuin, who opened the bowling just like Linde does, set the tone upfront with a wicket-maiden to immediately peg Ireland back and went on to finish with the excellent figures of 3/16 too.
South Africa's decision to rotate their pace bowlers also reaped dividends with Beuran Hendricks completing a successful return to the national team with two wickets for 28 runs.
The Proteas can now look forward to Sunday's dead rubber with greater freedom after a lengthy tour that has seen them overcome major obstacles both on and off the field.
South Africa: 159/7 (Miller 75*, Mulder 36, De Kock 27, Sterling 2/12)
Ireland: 117 all out (Shamsi 3/14, Fortuin 2/16, Hendricks 2/28)
South Africa won by 42 runs, lead series 2-0