Calcutta: Chasing 171 for victory, New Zealand required seven runs off the last over. South Africa were probably fighting the ghosts of the chokers’ tag. The Group 1 match of the World T20 in Chittagong was as thrilling as it gets.
In the end, a charged-up Dale Steyn bowled superbly to earn the Proteas a dramatic two-run victory.
Ross Taylor was the set batsman having already completed his half-century. But unfortunately, he got to play only one ball in the over and that, probably, made things a bit easier for Steyn and South Africa.
Having said that, there’s no way one can ignore Steyn’s excellent bowling. He dismissed Luke Ronchi off the very first delivery of the over. New man in Nathan McCullum was kept quiet for two balls before the New Zealander used his might to thrash one over the extra cover region for a boundary.
That brought down the equation to three required off two balls. Steyn produced another wicket off the fifth delivery of the over as he dismissed Nathan. Taylor, having crossed over, faced the last ball. He was batting on 62 and was capable enough get the required runs off the final ball.
But Steyn intelligently bowled a fuller delivery outside the off-stump and Taylor didn’t get a proper hold of it. The batsman’s shot reached only as far as the bowler and Steyn happily affected a run out as the New Zealanders tried in vain to take a consolatory single.
Comparing Steyn’s match figures of 4-017-4 with Morne Morkel’s 3-0-50-0 would help understand how crucial the former’s contribution was in the South African victory.
Steyn, however, didn’t win the Man of the Match award. That went to JP Duminy, who slammed an unbeaten 43-ball 86 to help South Africa put up a total of 170 for six.
Hashim Amla, with a 40-ball 41, was the other contributor in the Proteas’ total.
Apart from Taylor, New Zealand had another half-centurion in Kane Williamson, who made a 35-ball 51. Taylor’s 37-ball 62 had four boundaries and three sixes in it.
Faf du Plessis: I was thinking all the time that Steyn is my trump card. I needed to bring him back into the game because of the way he was playing… And he bowled fantastically, giving away just four runs in the last over.
We will always say how Steyn has bowled his four overs… Fantastic bowling from him. But one shouldn’t forget how great was Duminy’s knock. He bailed us out of trouble. He took his time while in the middle, but in the end, he produced some sweet hitting to take us to 170. Brilliant it was… One of the best performances that I have seen in a long time.
Brendon McCullum: Credit to South Africa for the way they hung in there when the game was on the line. We probably should have won the match easily. But we couldn’t take it in the final over against a top quality bowler like Steyn. Having said that, we saw a great innings from Taylor today.
Duminy played a great knock… Obviously, we have a shorter boundary on one side and he played his shots well… Played according to the merit of the ball… So credit to him. A little bit of luck and we would have gone across the line.
At the halfway mark, the way we were batting, we should’ve wrapped up the match before the last over. We will have to lift ourselves for the remaining games. We have a couple of days’ off and then we have two more matches lined up. We have to win both the matches convincingly to give ourselves a good chance of qualifying for the next stage.
JP Duminy (MoM): Unfortunately, we lost a couple of early wickets and so we needed to build the innings. We had to cash in on the onslaught during the final overs and I’m happy we could do that.
It is a very competitive total… At one stage, we couldn’t realise that we could get to it. But we stuck to our guns and in the end we reached there.