David Miller put in a stellar fielding performance to help the Proteas seal a narrow six-run victory over Pakistan in the first KFC T20 international at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
Man of the match Miller claimed four catches and effected to run outs with direct throws to thwart the Pakistan charge for victory, with the visitors ending on 186 for nine after the Proteas had posted 192 for six in their allotted 20 overs.
“David is obviously a very good athlete. With all good fielders you want to go to where the hot-spots are, you want to go to where the ball is going to go, and that’s the most important thing,” said Faf du Plessis at the post-match press conference.
“And those two run-outs were brilliant and changed the game for us,” added the captain.
Beuran Hendricks (4-0-40-2) had claimed the wicket of Fakhar Zaman (4) off the third ball of the innings but then Babar Azam (38) and Hussain Talat (40) took the game to the home side.
Babar and Hussain smashed 81 runs for the second wicket off 61 balls before Tabraiz Shamsi (4-0-33-2) had Hussain caught on the boundary by Chris Morris. Then it was ‘Miller-time” as Babar set off for a single, only for Miller to throw down the stumps at the non-strikers end with Babar short of his ground.
Shoaib Malik (49) and Asif Ali (13) added 20 runs off 13 balls for the fourth wicket but then enter Miller again, who took a good catch off Morris (4-0-39-2) to see the end of Ali. Miller and Shamsi then combined again as Imad Wasim fell for just four.
Heinrich Klaasen took a regulation catch off Andile Phehlukwayo (4-0-27-1) to get rid of Faheen Ashraf (8) before a comedy of errors saw Mohammad Rizwan run out. Malik had launched a Phehlukwayo ball high into the air to short fine leg where Hendricks (Beuran) steadied himself under the ball, but the tall fast bowler dropped a sitter and then shied at the non-strikers end with Malik trying to make his ground.
With the ball running free, the batsmen turned for a second but Miller was quick to react and threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end with Rizwan diving in vain. Miller then claimed his third catch of the evening, claiming a catch on the long-off boundary from the bowling of Hendricks to see the end of Hasan Ali (11).
Malik tried his best to keep his side in the game but eventually fell, being caught by Miller off Morris to quench the Pakistan fire.
Earlier, Reeza Hendricks made his highest T20 international score to help South Africa post 192 after Malik had won the toss and asked the Proteas to bat first.
Hendricks smashed eight boundaries and two maximums from 41 deliveries before falling for 74, being caught by Shadab Khan off Usman Shinwari (4-0-31-3). Hendricks and Gihahn Cloete (13) had given the Proteas a relatively fast start, adding 26 runs off 19 balls but Cloete fell to Wasim (4-0-23-1), cutting the spinner to backward point where Zaman claimed the catch.
“What I like about Reeza, what he is doing at the moment is that he has improved his consistency. We always knew that Reeza had a bit of flair, he’s one of those guys that is beautiful to watch when he cover drives or drives off the back foot,” said Du Plessis.
“But it’s more about consistency, and I feel he’s added that to his game. It’s not just one in five knocks, it’s started to become three in every five knocks, and that’s really important,” added Du Plessis.
Hendricks was then joined by his captain, Faf du Plessis and the pair plundered 131 runs for the second wicket off just 74 balls to set the Proteas up nicely. Du Plessis needed just 29 balls to raise his eighth T20 international half-century before falling to Shinwari for 78 from 45 balls, which included six boundaries and four inventive sixes.
“It was a nice partnership. The wicket was nice and it was a little bit quicker than the one we had during the one-day game so we felt like it was a good opportunity to be really positive,” stated the Proteas captain.
The Proteas fell away at the back-end with Rassie van der Dussen falling for a second-ball duck while Miller could only add 10 runs. Morris fell for two while Klaasen and Phehlukwayo both ended on five not out.
“I was very happy with the score that we got, you always want to get more but to get 190-plus first innings is a lot of runs so I looked at the positive side of it. I knew if we got some early wickets that it would be tough for them,” said Du Plessis.
The sides head up to Johannesburg to face-off at the Bullring on Sunday in the second match before completing the tour with the third and final T20 on Wednesday at Supersport Park in Centurion.