Proteas draw first blood
Faf leads the way with the bat as home side hold their nerve to edge Pakistan in Cape Town
Blistering batting by Reeza Hendricks and Faf du Plessis was upstaged by David Miller’s outrageous fielding in the first T20 between South Africa and Pakistan at Newlands on Friday.
The home side made 192/6 and curbed Pakistan’s reply to 186/9 to end a streak of nine consecutive T20 victories by the visitors.
Miller scored a forgettable, boundaryless 10 off 12 balls but earned his place in spectators’ memories by taking four catches and claiming two runouts, both with direct hits on the stumps.
South Africa’s total is the highest score made in the format at Newlands, but they should have piled up far more runs.
They had 157 in the bank after 15 overs for the loss of only Gihahn Cloete, whose dismissal in the fourth over seemed to have happened an age ago by the time the last five overs of the innings arrived.
Somewhere significantly north of 200 was on the cards, surely …
Cue five wickets crashing for 29 runs in 25 deliveries to hem the home side in to more manageable proportions.
Three of them fell to fine catches — by Shoaib Malik at mid-off, wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan at long-on — and the major beneficiary was Usman Shinwari.
After two of his overs, left-arm fast bowler Shinwari had conceded 18 runs and taken no wickets. After four he had 3/31.
All of which doesn’t douse the dazzle of the 131 shared by Hendricks and Du Plessis — the record for South Africa’s second wicket in T20s and their fourth highest partnership for any wicket in the format.
Hendricks clipped his 74 off 41 balls and Du Plessis his 78 off 45. Between them they racked up 92 runs in fours and sixes.
The tone was set in the first over when Hendricks hoisted Shoaib Malik over extra cover for six.
In the seventh Du Plessis shaped to scoop Faheem Ashraf, who saw him coming and fired full and wide of off-stump. Du Plessis adjusted slickly to send a ramp spiralling over the ropes for another half-dozen.
And so on and so forth until Shinwari removed Du Plessis in the 16th, prompting South Africa’s collapse.
Pakistan’s reply seemed set to follow a similar narrative — Beuran Hendricks had Fakhar Zaman caught at first slip with the third ball of the innings before Babar Azam and Hussain Talat put Pakistan back on track.
But Talat’s charge was snuffed out for 40 in the 10th over when he top-edged a heave to Tabraiz Shamsi and was caught at long-off to end the stand at 81.
Babar was gone for 38 just six balls later via Miller’s underarmed hit from short midwicket, and suddenly the visitors were on the skids.
Miller also ran out Rizwan with another unerring throw in a mad moment that started with Andile Phehlukwayo having Malik dropped by Beuran Hendricks at short third man. Then batsmen tried to take a run.
Malik kept fighting the good fight and made a nuggety 49 to keep his team in the contest until the end, but the best effort from his support staff was Asif Ali’s 13.
Not for the first time, and no doubt not the last, the coolest cat on the park was Phehlukwayo, whose four overs cost only 27 runs.
Shamsi was decent for his return of 2/33, but Beuran Hendricks, Junior dala and Chris Morris all travelled in double figures.
The second of the three matches will be played at the Wanderers on Sunday.