After being reduced to 58 for 5 in the 10th over, David Miller turned out to be the saviour for South Africa as his unbeaten 44-ball 75, helped the Proteas put up 159 for 7 in the second T20 International (T20I) against Ireland in Belfast. With this win, South Africa have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, with the final match set to be played at the same venue on Saturday (July 24).
Miller was well supported by Wiaan Mulder (36) with whom he put on 58 for the sixth wicket. Initially, it was Paul Stirling who sent both Temba Bavuma and Janneman Malan back to the pavillion for two-ball ducks in the first over of the match.
Mark Adair then bowled Aiden Markram, and while Quinton de Kock played some inventive strokes, twice scooping Little over fine leg, but he fell to Simi Singh’s first delivery, pinned lbw. That brought Miller to the crease, but he began slowly, and Rassie van der Dussen’s dismissal, nicking Little behind off the last ball of the 10th over, left South Africa 58 for 5 at the halfway stage.
From there Wiaan Mulder and Miller put on the game’s largest and most important stand, doubling the score and laying the platform for a remarkable assault from the hard-hitting No.5. The pair took their time at first, with just one boundary coming between the 10th and 15th over, with a drop of Miller in this period, when he had just 19, proving crucial. But a six off the last ball of Singh’s final over, smashed over deep midwicket by Miller, signalled a change in intent.
A pair of fours came in the next over before Mulder smashed six and four off consecutive Adair deliveries, and while he fell to the first ball of the 18th over, that only prompted Miller to take on the charge himself. On 37 when Mulder fell, he more than doubled his score in the next 2.5 overs, facing 12 balls for 38 runs in this stretch. The last over brought a stunning assault, with four sixes smashed as South Africa finished with a flourish.
Ireland struggled to get going in reply, Kevin O’Brien falling to the last ball of the first over, chipping back to bowler Bjorn Fortuin. A mammoth slog sweep from Paul Stirling gave the Irish fans some reason to cheer, taking him past Brendon McCullum into 10th in the all-time men’s T20I run-scorers charts, but the dismissal of Andrew Balbirnie tempered their joy, de Kock settling under a spiralling top edge.
Dockrell and Stirling briefly gave Ireland hope, with the former striking four and six off consecutive Mulder balls, the latter a spectacular, lunging lofted drive. But a spell of three wickets in three overs stymied the Irish charge. Stirling hit Tabraiz Shamsi, Player of the Match in the first game, to deep midwicket. Harry Tector got a leading edge off Aiden Markram to cover, where Fortuin took a good catch diving forward. And Dockrell handed Shamsi another, holing out to long-on, Markram taking a leaping catch to deny the all-rounder a maximum.
At the halfway stage, Ireland were 56 for 5, only two runs behind South Africa at the same stage, and with the same wickets lost. Shane Getkate threatened to play the David Miller role, racing to 24 off 17 as 30 runs were plundered off the next three overs, and striking two powerful sixes down the ground. But he slog-swept Shamsi to Bavuma at midwicket before a two-wicket over from Fortuin effectively decided the contest, Lorcan Tucker bowled and Singh stumped after coming down the track and inside-edging into his pad.
Craig Young fell for a duck before another combative last-wicket stand held South Africa up. Adair squeezed a wide yorker out to deep point for four, before a delicate glide from Little brought another boundary, but the partnership was in vain. It was Little’s wicket who brought the contest to an end, a slower-ball yorker from Lungi Ngidi beating a leg-side swipe and giving the Proteas a comfortable victory.
South Africa 159 for 5 in 20 overs (David Miller 75*, Wiaan Mulder 36; Paul Stirling 2 for 12) beat Ireland 117 in 19.3 overs (Shane Getkate 24, George Dockrell 20; Bjorn Fortuin 3 for 16) by 42 runs.
Player of the match: David Miller
(With inputs from Cricket Ireland Media Release)