The Proteas levelled their three-match T20 international series against England thanks to a much-improved performance in all departments and stellar knock by Rilee Rossouw.
Cape Town – Barely 24 hours ago, South Africa were no-hope losers, couldn’t catch a cold, and a team blundering its way to the T20 World Cup just a few months away.
At least, that was the view of the trolls on social media.
On Thursday in Cardiff, after rebounding with a 58-run run victory over England to set up a series-decider at The Rose Bowl on Sunday, they are back to being world-beaters and should get down to Australia for the global jamboree tomorrow.
Once again, that’s the fickle view of the virtual world.
In reality, the Proteas were much better – in every department.
Quinton de Kock (15) and Reeza Hendricks gave them a rousing start on a deck that was full of runs. De Kock then dragged a swipe across the line to mid-on, but South Africa were 39/1 after just 3.5 overs.
That brought Rilee Rossouw to the crease. And it was like old times again when Hendricks and Rossouw were still lighting up Bloemfontein and Kimberley for the Eagles/Knights in their youth.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) July 28, 2022
The pair have an almost telepathic relationship, forged from their days in the South African Uner-19 team all those years ago, and they began their work in industrious fashion.
It was their 73-run partnership off 46 balls that set South Africa on their way. Hendricks struck a consecutive half-century off 29 balls (3×4, 2×6) that was equally fluent as the one at Bristol the day before.
Such was Hendricks’ form that he was actually two balls quicker than Rossouw in getting to his milestone, but after his departure the vast Sophia Gardens was the former Kolpak’s playground.
Rossouw (96*, 55 balls, 10×4, 5×6) showed off all the skills he has learnt playing around the world while he’s been away from the Proteas for the past six years.
Pure muscle was interspersed with deft touches and innovation and he was ultimately grossly unlucky to fall one boundary short of a maiden T20I century.
He had the new wunderkid Tristan Stubbs (15 not out) alongside him for the death overs, although the rookie smashed one six he could not quite find the rhythm of the previous evening.
Knowing the power England’s batting unit possesses, South Africa knew they still needed to bowl well, and more importantly catch well, if they were to defend their 207/3.
They performed both dutifully, especially in the catching department with Keshav Maharaj, in particular, setting the tone with a brilliant one-handed diving effort on the long-on boundary.
The bowlers appreciated the support and they raised their performances too with Tabraiz Shamsi (3/27) showing good character to come back the mauling he suffered in Bristol.
Equally, Andile Phehlukwayo (3/39) kept his nerve despite being constantly put under immense pressure with wickets at crucial times, while Lungi Ngidi (2/11) remained the epitome of consistency to dismiss England for just 149.
South Africa: 207/3 (Rossouw 96*, Hendricks 53)
England: 149 all out (Shamsi 3/27, Phehlukwayo 3/39)
South Africa won by 58 runs, series tied at 1-1