The Proteas endured yet another batting collapse, which captain Heinrich Klaasen branded “cowboy cricket”.
CAPE TOWN – PROTEAS coach Mark Boucher bemoaned his team’s “lack of match awareness in big moments” after the Test series defeat to Pakistan
The former national team wicket-keeper sung from the same hymn sheet after South Africa were consigned to their fourth successive T20I series defeat – and first in Asia – on Sunday.
South Africa fought a brave fight in the series-decider in Lahore, with David Miller and Tabraiz Shamsi almost single-handedly carrying their team over the line with bat and ball respectively.
Miller had come into this series wanting to step up in the tough moments as a senior player. There are arguably none tougher than when the team is reeling at 48/6 and then 65/7 after 10.4 overs like the Proteas were after yet another batting collapse, which captain Heinrich Klaasen branded “cowboy cricket”.
But Miller called on all the experience of his 78 T20I caps earned over the last decade to initially weather the storm before unleashing a hurricane of his own. He started his engine with a sweep shot off leg-spinner Usman Qadir, before turning the heat on impressive debutant Zahid Mahmood (3/40) with two sixes over long-on.
But it was his management of the death overs with tailender Lutho Sipamla (10 not out) that really gave South Africa hope. The visitors scored 54 runs off the last four overs, with Miller smashing 45 of them. In fact, 25 runs came off Faheem Ashraf’s final over with Miller clubbing the seam bowler for four sixes.
From their perilous position at the halfway stage, Miller had managed to provide South Africa’s bowlers with the highest total of the series to defend.
And Shamsi certainly did everything in his power to achieve that. The leg-spinner has certainly stepped out of veteran Imran Tahir’s shadow for good now, and developed into a genuine world-class bowler in his own right.
He broke the opening stand with the first delivery of his spell, clean bowling Haider Ali, before getting rid of South Africa’s nemesis throughout this tour of Pakistan Mohammed Rizwan.
Unfortunately for the Proteas, Rizwan had already left his impact on this game too with a 30-ball 42. But Shamsi was determined and struck two further blows by clean bowling Hussain Talat before having Asif Ali caught at long-on to finish with the impressive figures of 4/25.
But Shamsi couldn’t do it all on his own like Miller attempted with the bat. He needed support and found some in Dwaine Pretorius, who cleaned bowled Babar Azam just when the Pakistan skipper was well set, looking ominous on 44.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the further support acts were disappointing. Sipamla conceded 23 runs from his two overs and allowed Pakistan to build up momentum again before Andile Phelukwauyo closed off a horror day at the office with an over he will rather forget with the Pakistan still requiring 16 runs from the final two balls.
His first delivery was a horrid waist-high no ball that Hasan Ali flogged for six before delivering a wide that almost landed on the other pitch. Phehlukwayo’s nightmare was not over as he delivered another full toss for Hasan Ali to close out the game.
“Yeah, there were definitely key moments again that cost us,” Boucher said afterwards. “But we will try to improve and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.
“We tried to play positive cricket on this tour, and we showed it in the second game, maybe we could have been smarter in some situations today.”
South Africa: 164/8 (Miller 85 not out, Mahmood 3/40)
Pakistan: 169/6 (Azam 44, Rizwan 42, Shamsi 4/25)
Pakistan won by four wickets, series 2-1