Cape Town: Imran Tahir, emerged as the hero for South Africa as he successfully defended 15 runs in the super over to help South Africa beat Sri Lanka in a nail-biting first T20 internation of the three-match series at New Lands, Cape Town, Tuesday.
After restricting Sri Lanka to 134 for seven in 20 overs, South Africa choked badly as the contest came to an end with the scores level. Batting first in the super over, the hosts compensated their poor outing in the match with the bat, by a good batting display from David Miller and Rassie va der Dussen that helped them score 14 runs in the super over, bowled by Lasith Malinga.
Needing only 15 runs to defend, South African skipper, Faf du Plessis gave the ball to Imran Tahir and the move paid rich dividends as the leg-spinner conceded only five runs to help the home team romp to victory.
Earlier in the contest, South Africa tested David Miller in the unaccustomed role of wicketkeeper, despite Quinton de Kock featuring in the playing eleven. Miller did justicfe to the role as he held a catch ff Dale Steyn’s bowling off the second ball of the match, dismissing Niroshan Dickwella and made a stumping. Miller then hit 41 off 23 balls but South Africa’s lower order collapsed as the home side lost eight wickets in the end pushing the match into the super over.
“We didn’t handle it well with the bat in the last five or six overs but getting another opportunity in the Super Over I thought we handled it beautifully,” said South African captain Faf du Plessis, at the post-match presentation. He said that Miller was handed the wicketkeeping gloves in preparation for his likely role as Quinton de Kock’s back-up in the World Cup.
“We bowled really well. I was surprised how the wicket played, did not expect it to turn so much at Newlands. Playing Malinga at the death is very difficult. He is one of the best at that stage. But this will help us if we meet in the World Cup,” he said.
All-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo took three for 25 as Sri Lanka were unable to recover fully after losing two wickets in the first two overs. “He (Phehlukwayo) is having a good time with the ball. We need guys to take responsibility and he is taking them,” said Du Plessis.
For Sri Lanka it was Kamindu Mendis, who top-scored with 41. Malinga was superb in the closing overs, finishing with two for 11, while Isuru Udana bowled a tight final over, conceding only four runs, despite making a good comeback in the match the visitors could not reach past the line.
“T20 is a different game,” said Malinga, adding that the tactic of using mainly spin bowlers worked. ‘But still, I am really happy with what we are doing,’ he said. Tahir scrambled a single to tie the match off the last ball, with wicketkeeper Dickwella missing the stumps with a throw which would have won the match for Sri Lanka.