CENTURION - A bruising half century from Heinrich Klaasen and a more measured one from captain JP Duminy propelled South Africa to a much needed win, that is sure to lift the spirits of the players and the coaching staff.
It’s been a difficult few weeks for all involved with the Proteas’ limited overs teams, but at a ground where it’s always good to bat second, they gained a redemptive victory that keeps alive their hopes of winning the T20 International series against India at Newlands on Saturday.
It was a solid all around performance by the home team, who were, until the last four overs of the Indian innings, very good with ball, and then with the bat, an area where they’ve struggled these past few weeks, they produced an excellent chase of a substantial Indian target.
The crucial partnership was between Duminy and Klaasen, a 93-run stand for the fourth wicket from 50 balls. Klaasen was the aggressor, producing a stunning array of power hitting, to give the South African innings some much needed momentum.
Duminy was happy just to feed him the strike, and it work a treat for the hosts, with Yuzvendra Chahal, the troublesome leg-spinner, conceding 64 runs in four overs, with Klaasen taking him to the cleaners in the 13th overs, hitting him for consecutive sixes at the start in an over that eventually saw South Africa score 23 runs.
Klaasen made 69 off just 30 balls (3x4, 7x6) including hitting the shot of the match, an inside/out lofted drive for six off Chahal that saw him launch the ball from a 30cm outside legstump and deposit it over the extra cover boundary.
Duminy saved his explosive hitting for the end, finishing the game off with a pair of sixes, but his was an extremely intelliegent innings, played under enormous pressure following the poor performance at the Wanderers on Sunday. He was not out on 64 (40b, 3x4, 3x6) thrusting his arms in the air as much in relief as exultation.
Earlier there was much improved performance with the ball by the Proteas. In stark contrast to last Sunday here there was evidence of a plan, and it was one that for the most part was well executed. Junior Dala led the way, with a disciplined and accurate set of one over spells, finishing with 2/28, bowling 14 dot balls.
South Africa’s lengths were noticeably fuller compared to the Wanderers, although when they erred, as Chris Morris did in the second over, they were rightly punished. Quite what Morris was attempting only he’ll know. Having bowled a maiden in the first over, his second started with two short balls, which Shikhar Dhawan pulled for a four and six, which was followed by a couple of more short balls, with Dhawan dishing out the same treatment as at the start of the over.
South Africa had the ascendancy after the Power Play, restricting India to 45/3, and until the final four overs, had India under control.
Manish Pandey, who announced himself to Indian cricket with the first hundred by an Indian player in the IPL at this ground nine years ago, made an intelligent and vibrant 79 not out (48b, 6x4, 3x6), initially steadying the ship after the Power Play and then sharing an excellent unbeaten partnership of 98 for the fifth wicket with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The former Indian captain, showed he’s very much still got it as far as ‘finishing’ an innings is concerned, mixing the unconventional with some good fortune to end the innings not out on 52 (28b, 4x4, 3x6).
South Africa conceded 55 runs in the last four overs and it’s a mystery as to why Duminy has not bowled Andile Phehlukwayo, a noted ‘death’ bowler at domestic level, at the ‘death’ in this series. Phehlukwayo has bowled four overs for 31 in the first two matches, while Dane Paterson, has been smashed to the tune of 99 runs in eight overs, while bowling just seven dot balls in the series.
It didn’t help anyone, not Duminy nor Paterson, that Morris also struggled late on, although he might look back at the Dala’s miss of Dhoni on 29, and bemoan his misfortune.
* Meanwhile, Dane van Niekerk’s side can only draw their series with their Indian counterparts after Wednesday’s fourth T20 International had to be abandoned because of rain.
South Africa were very well placed at the time on 131/3, when the rain came midway through the 16th over. A 103-run stand for the opening wicket between skipper Van Niekerk and the hard hitting Lizelle Lee had given the hosts the initiative. Van Niekerk notched up her sixth T20 half-century, eventually making 55 (47b, 6x4, 2x6), while Lee was not out on 58 (38b, 2x4, 5x6) when rain stopped the match.
The final match will take place at Newlands on Saturday.