Bowlers pitch up to rescue SA

Keshav Maharaj defended 10 runs in the final over of the Proteas’ World Cup match against Bangladesh to ensure SA won the match by four runs. | AFP

Keshav Maharaj defended 10 runs in the final over of the Proteas’ World Cup match against Bangladesh to ensure SA won the match by four runs. | AFP

Published Jun 10, 2024


Ongama Gcwabe

YESTERDAY, the Proteas pulled off a heist of note at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York as they defended a mediocre 114-run target against Bangladesh to record a third successive victory at the T20 World Cup.

Few could have foreseen the Proteas bowling attack putting on such a strong performance at the showpiece event, given the struggles of the bowling unit leading into the tournament.

Needing to defend 10 runs off the last over with all the fast bowlers having gone through their four-over spells, captain Aiden Markram looked to spinner Keshav Maharaj and the 34-year-old held his nerve and delivered a magical final over.

Maharaj conceded only seven runs and took two wickets, removing the dangerous Mahmudullah (20) before accounting for Jaker Ali (8) to help South Africa seal the victory by the barest of margins.

The fast bowlers really set the game up for Maharaj, who took 3-27 in four overs, to land the lethal blow at the back end of the match as Kagiso Rabada spearheaded the attack with distinction, returning figures of 2-19.

Bangladesh opening batter Tanzin Hasan was Rabada’s first scalp as the 29-year-old made an immediate impact in his first over.

Alongside him, Anrich Nortje delivered yet another impressive performance as he not only bowled fast but also gave away almost no freebies.

Nortje returned figures of 2-17 as he removed captain Najmul Shanto (14) and a set Shakib Al Hasan (37) to bring South Africa back into the contest.

Ottneil Baartman (0-27) and Marco Jansen (0-17) might have gone wicketless but were just as brilliant in South Africa’s most impressive victory of the tournament.

Building up to the tournament, there was an alarming difference between the Proteas’ batting and bowling units.

It seemed as though the team’s success at the showpiece event rested solely on the shoulders of a batting unit regarded as the best in the tournament.

Apart from Quinton de Kock, who struggled with bat in hand this year, the the likes of Heinrich Klaasen, Tristan Stubbs, David Miller and Reeza Hendricks made up a formidable order.

However, since the tournament began, it has been the bowling unit that has impressed the most as the attack hit their straps from the get-go, bundling out Sri Lanka for 77 before restricting the Dutch to 103-9 to win their opening two fixtures in New York.

Having called correctly at the toss, Proteas captain Aiden Markram opted to bat first, a decision that raised eyebrows given the bowler-friendly drop-in surfaces at the Nassau County International Cricket Ground.

Markram’s decision was immediately backed up by the opening batters as South Africa got off to a flying start as De Kock hit his signature leg glide over the deep backward square leg boundary for a maximum when seamer Tanzim Sakib strayed onto his pads with the second delivery of the match.

The left-handed batter smashed the very next ball for four through the mid-wicket region before knocking a single to give Hendricks the strike and take South Africa to a cracking start.

Sakib, though, had the last laugh as he trapped Hendricks lbw for a duck with the last delivery of the opening over of the match.

De Kock maintained his positive start as he smashed fast bowler Taskin Ahmed for six in the very next over.

A flurry of wickets followed as De Kock, Markram and Stubbs lost their wickets cheaply and left South Africa in a spot of bother with the score reading 24-4 after the first power play.

Miller (29) and Klaasen (46) rebuilt the innings with a 79-run stand before Klaasen fell in the 18th over.

Miller lost his wicket in the penultimate over of the innings as South Africa finished on 113-6.

David Miller put up a degree of resistance against Bangladesh yesterday, scoring 29 runs of 39 balls as the Proteas posted an underwhelming 113-6. | AFP
Despite some positive strokeplay, Quinton de Kock was an early casualty in the Proteas match against Bangladesh yesterday. | AFP