CAPE TOWN – If there is any silver lining to the chaos that unfolded at Newlands on Tuesday night, it is that South Africa have hopefully gotten their choke out of the way ahead of the World Cup.
This hari-kiri was right up there with the very best of the Proteas’ capitulations.
It was certainly wasn’t meant to be a thriller when South Africa were handily placed on 118/3, in pursuit of 134, with 21 balls remaining.
But that’s exactly what transpired when the home team’s lower-order made a sorry mess of it all, resulting in the match being tied as the tail-enders scrambled a single off the final ball of the innings to force a Super Over.
The fact that the hosts won via a Super Over is irrelevant.
David Miller may have clubbed Lasith Malinga for 14 runs, before Imran Tahir held his nerve to concede just five runs to close out the eventual victory.
But coach Ottis Gibson will certainly need to address how his team handle these pressure moments at the World Cup in a couple of months’ time.
Even during the Super Over they struggled to maintain their composure, with Dale Steyn dropping a simple catch at long-on that illustrated even the most senior players are susceptible to the pressure.
The actual match also once again highlighted how reliant South Africa’s World Cup strategy is on its strike bowlers.
They duly did their job in restricting Sri Lanka for a below-par total of 134/7 off their 20 overs, with Andile Phehlukwayo claiming 3/25.
However, there is a great element of risk attached to it, for it leaves them vulnerable due a lengthy tail.
It all seemed immaterial, though, when Miller (41 off 23 balls, 5x4, 1x6) and Rassie van der Dussen (34 off 30 balls) were at the crease.
The pair shared a 66-run partnership for the third wicket, with Miller being the chief aggressor in the partnership. The powerful left-hander utilised the sweep to good effect.
#T20I RESULT: #Proteas and Sri Lanka TIE at Newlands!— IOL Sport (@IOLsport) March 19, 2019
Sri Lanka 134/7 off 20 overs (Kamindu Mendis 41; Andile Phehlukwayo 3/25)
SA 134/8 off 20 overs (David Miller 41 Rassie van der Dussen 34)
Photo: @PJikelo @AfriNewsAgency #SAvSL pic.twitter.com/TOISXn4tKw
But that’s when the anarchy unfolded.
South Africa lost their remaining five wickets for just 13, with the run outs of Miller and Duminy interspersed between some poor shot selection from Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada.
Wide ball and Tahir bowls a dot and immediately start celebrating but the next ball is ALSO A WIDE!!— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) March 19, 2019
In the end, South Africa win the match by 9 runs in the #SuperOver and go 1-0 up in the three-match series. #ProteaFire #SAvSL pic.twitter.com/lVbb1OMhde
The only other positive the Proteas could take from a frantic night was the performance of Miller behind the stumps.
The Dolphins star has previously only done duty behind the stumps on an ad-hoc basis, but was entrusted with the gloves from the start of the Sri Lankan innings this time around.
He was mightily impressive, conceding no byes and completing a catch and a neat stumping off leg-spinner Tahir.
The drama now moves up to the highveld, where the second T20I will be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday evening.