Wednesday, July 17, 2024

SA20 League: Quinny was the difference, says Buttler as Proteas edge England

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Photo Credit: BCCI

The Proteas maintained their unbeaten run at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with a tense seven-run victory over England in their Super Eight clash in St Lucia.

Aiden Markram‘s team held their nerve in the pressure-cooker with fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje closing out the match when England needed just 25 runs off 18 deliveries.

Rabada conceded four runs and claimed the big wicket of Liam Livingstone (33) caught in the deep, before Jansen had just seven taken off his penultimate over, leaving Nortje with 13 runs to defend off the last six balls.

The Pretoria Capitals speed merchant was helped in his cause by a brilliant catch from Sunrisers Eastern Cape captain Markram, who ran backwards from mid-on before diving to full length to claim a two-handed pouch that sent the dangerous Harry Brook (53 off 37 balls) back to the pavilion.

Markram is, of course, an excellent fielder having already shown it during the Betway SA20 Season 2 qualifier at Newlands when he grabbed an acrobatic one-handed catch.

“I don’t think the TV does it justice when people are watching from the outside. From the angle of the wicket, coming straight down, there’s a massive left to right wind from my direction. I don’t know, maybe like 40km an hour, 50km an hour,” Proteas batting star Quinton de Kock said.

“So, it’s not the ball’s just getting pushed, but also getting moved that way. And he actually turned on the inside. So, the ball’s always moving towards the boundary. And credit to – I’ve seen Aiden, I think a lot of the guys, everybody takes the high catches but he practises those catches all the time.”

England captain Jos Buttler concurred.

“It’s a great catch. That’s what I think South Africa for over a long period of time have prided themselves on great fielders. You think of (Jonty) Rhodes, (Herschelle) Gibbs, (AB de Villiers), all these guys,” Buttler said.

The game was set up by Durban’s Super Giants De Kock, who reeled off his second consecutive half-century with an explosive 38-ball 65 (4×4, 4×6) that helped the Proteas’ up to 163/6.

De Kock was particularly brutal during the Powerplay where he banged 20 runs off former MI Cape Town fast bowler Jofra Archer’s first over with the Proteas enjoying their best opening six overs of the competition as they raced to 63/0.

It proved crucial in the context of the game with England only managing 41/1 during the same period.

“I think that was the difference in the game. I think the way Quinny played at the top sort of really put us under a lot of pressure and yeah played some great shots and we weren’t able to match that,” Paarl Royals opener Buttler said.

De Kock, meanwhile, attributed his Powerplay assault on having the experience of playing plenty of Caribbean Premier League matches previously at the Daren Sammy Stadium.

“I’ve played a lot of day T20s in cricket in the West Indies and generally that is the most important time to score runs,” he said.

“It is the easiest time to score runs in the Powerplay because when the ball gets old and the wicket deteriorates it gets harder,” De Kock said.

None of the remaining Proteas’ batters could find their timing on the slowish surface as Pretoria Capitals ace leg-spinner Adil Rashid (1/20) and Joburg Super Kings off-spinner Moeen Ali (1/25) spun a web during the middle overs.

Only Royals captain David Miller was able to strike the ball cleanly at the backend with a crucial 43 off 28 balls.

The Proteas bowlers, however, came out firing with Rabada visibly pumped up for the occasion as he celebrated each of his two wickets with gusto.

DSG captain Keshav Maharaj then replicated Rashid and Moeen’s performance earlier by claiming the big wickets of Buttler (17) and Jonny Bairstow (16) with his left-arm spin.

And when Sunrisers Eastern Cape seamer Ottniel Baartman, who was back in the starting XI at the expense of Tabraiz Shamsi, removed Moeen Ali, the noose was tightened around the England middle-order.

However, Brook (53) and MI Cape Town all-rounder Livingstone (33) revived England’s chances with 78-run partnership off just 42 balls for the fifth wicket, but they were both dismissed at critical junctions as the Proteas once again edged home by the barest of margins.

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