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Rassie van der Dussen admits Proteas were lucky in opening T20I win

David Miller (left) and Rassie van der Dussen celebrate after winning the first T20 International against hosts India on Thursday. Picture: twitter.com/ICC

David Miller (left) and Rassie van der Dussen celebrate after winning the first T20 International against hosts India on Thursday. Picture: twitter.com/ICC

Published Jun 10, 2022

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Johannesburg - “I got lucky.” This was Rassie van der Dussen’s confession after leading the Proteas Men's team to a record chase in tandem with David Miller in the series-opening T20I in Delhi on Thursday evening.

Van der Dussen may have finished the game as South Africa’s hero with an unbeaten 75 off 46 balls, but he was not oblivious to the almighty hole he found himself in with just nine overs remaining in the hunt to haul in India’s 211/4.

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South Africa required 120 runs from 54 balls at an imposing rate of 13.33 per over and Van der Dussen was not able to get the ball off the square at that stage.

The pressure was certainly taking its toll and something was bound to crack. Van der Dussen blinked first and hit one straight to Shreyas Iyer at deep mid-wicket.

The chance was spilled, though, prompting the on-air commentators Graeme Smith and Sunil Gavaskar to cynically suggest that it may even have been done purposefully to keep the struggling Van der Dussen at the crease.

However, the reprieve galvanised Van der Dussen with his next 16 balls yielding 46 runs as he rediscovered his touch, courtesy of a new willow, towards the backend of the Proteas’ innings.

"I did put myself and the team under pressure by not being able to hit early boundaries,” Van der Dussen said after the seven-wicket victory.

"Sometimes [your approach] just doesn't come off and other days it does. Some days you're lucky, others you're not. And tonight I was lucky. I have to acknowledge that. If Shreyas had caught that ball, it might've been a different game.”

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In complete contrast, Miller was in sublime touch at the other end continuing his rich vein of form from the Indian Premier League where he led the Gujarat Titans to the title just a couple of weeks ago. He finished on 64 not out off just 34 balls.

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Van der Dussen, therefore, remained confident that despite the required run-rate escalating with every passing ball that the Proteas could still haul in the target, especially when he finally also found some rhythm.

“We didn’t panic. David was hitting it so well. He put the bowlers under pressure from the start," said Van der Dussen.

"He played a brilliant innings and also just helped pull me through that difficult phase of my innings. Once he hit those consecutive sixes [off left-arm spinner Axar Patel], the momentum shifted our way.

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“I knew if I could also get one or two away the momentum would come. The key for me was that when that catch was dropped, I knew I had to make India pay. I took a good few balls to get in and it was a wicket that got a lot easier once you were in. It was tough to get yourself set. I knew I was in and I had to make them pay."

@ZaahierAdams

IOL Sport

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