Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa opening batsman Hashim Amla scored a clinical 48 to help his side cruise to a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the first Twenty20 International in Durban.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers, who was filling in for Faf du Plessis as he sustained a knee injury, would have been brooding over his decision to bat first early on as New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson and his opening partner Martin Guptill both made 42 runs.
However, once both batsmen were dismissed, the domino effect came into play and New Zealand’s middle and lower order completely collapsed. As a result, they were restricted to 151/8 off their 20 overs.
Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada and David Wiese picked up two wickets apiece.
Chasing 152 to win, South Africa lost wicketkeeper Morne van Wyk early on before Amla began to take over.
De Villiers and Rilee Rossouw both made valuable scores of 33 and 38 respectively, but it was Amla who guided the Proteas to the brink of victory before he was dismissed for 48 off 41 balls, which included four boundaries and a six.
Despite Amla’s departure, South Africa went on to win the match with 13 balls to spare.
Doug Bracewell, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan and George Worker claimed one wicket each.
Williamson was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “After the start we got with the bat, we could a got a bit more. It was outstanding from South Africa to pull things back. The way the guys stuck at it was positive for us. They are a very good team and we need to be at our best to beat them. They controlled the last 10 overs and 150 probably isn’t enough.”
De Villiers was pleased to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, and said: “It was an enjoyable experience. It is great to go 1-0 up and it will be great to take the momentum to Centurion. We were nervous and that showed in the first five overs but we pulled it back. Credit to Phangiso, he slowed things up. Wiese is a very smart cricketer. 160 is minimum, they were definitely below par. Morne and Hash started well and allowed me and Rilee to free it up.”
Phangiso edged out Amla for the Man of the Match award, and said: “I always focus on simple things. We were under pressure, the captain gave me the ball and I just do what I do in the nets. Me and the captain planned and we had a couple of guys to protect the boundaries on the leg side. I just invited him [Williamson] to come out, like I said we were under pressure.”