T20: Andile and the new boys do skipper David Miller proud
Phehlukwayo snuffs out Pakistan’s chances in the last over, but he had plenty of support from the debutants
David Miller’s first international captaincy experience was a stressful one but when there’s a cool and calm death-bowling customer in Andile Phehlukwayo, a game isn’t over until the allrounder makes the fat lady sing.
Defending 189 on a near-perfect batting strip at the Wanderers, Pakistan coasted for the better part of the chase through Babar Azam’s calculated belligerence – but Phehlukwayo had other ideas in the last over. Not only did he defend the 15 runs, he took two wickets to snuff out Pakistan’s chance of having a foothold in the series.
When Pakistan raced to 70/1 in six overs, Miller didn’t think victory was possible, especially with the young team at his disposal. However, youthful exuberance came with a dose of resourcefulness that in the bigger scheme of the game turned things around.
When Imad Wasim and Shaheen Shah Afridi prevented SA from scoring a boundary in the first three overs, it was debutant Janneman Malan who broke the shackles. When Babar and Fakhar Zaman were in full flow, Lutho Sipamla stemmed the flow of runs while Miller went through the full emotional cycle.
“I was more stressed in the first six overs than I was in the last four overs but the guys bowled well to bring the game back from the start that we had. In the last four our plans got better, and in the last over Andile kept telling me that I shouldn’t worry because he’s got this. I left him to his plans and he pulled it off. It was incredible bowling by him,” Miller said.
“It was very satisfying win. We had two guys playing in their first game. Lutho Sipamla bowled very well and Janneman Malan looked like he belonged at this level. It’s good signs for the future and the talent is there but it’s really rewarding to win this game and not worry about the final game in Centurion.”
Miller’s tactics were those of an inexperienced leader, but what he lacked in tactical nous he more than made up for with batting pyrotechnics that set up the game. His rapid-fire unbeaten 65 moved SA from a moderate to a defendable total despite the notoriety of the Wanderers as a chasing ground in day games.
Miller shifted through his batting gears to a point where he took 29 crucial runs off Usman Shinwari’s last over. In the scheme of Pakistan’s failed chase it was a turning point, but Miller said his contribution was one of many important detours in the game.
“There were 28 runs in that over but there were so many parts in the game you could look back on and that was one of them. Defending the last over is always a difficult one because if one goes out of the stadium you’re under massive pressure, but there were a lot of match-winning moments,” Miller said.
“We were looking for another 30 runs because there were 17 balls left and we were looking for 170-plus. The plan was to get to that score and, fortunately, the last over took us past that and anything past that was a bonus.”