Right-arm quick Lutho Sipamla was the most economical South Africa bowler on show on his international debut, and stand-in captain David Miller hailed his performance as 'absolutely incredible'.
Miller was however quick to admit his side could have bowled better in the second T20I against Pakistan, but says he’s thrilled with how his bowlers came back after Pakistan’s explosive start, sealing their win in the final over of the match.
“We didn’t start too well, but credit to our bowlers for really bringing it back," he said. "Shamsi came on and did incredibly well to bring their run rate down and then Sipamla in his first game was absolutely incredible. I was really pleased with the two of them.
It was a game Pakistan will feel they could have won, with the start afforded to them by Babar Azam (90 from 58 balls) and Hussain Talat (55 from 41 balls) ultimately squandered in the dying overs of the game. Miller, who picked up his second Player of the Match award in as many games, with his 65 from 29 balls providing some much-needed late impetus into the host’s innings, joked about his long-term credentials as captain after letting Pakistan get off to such a flyer in their response to South Africa’s 188/3.
“I thought I was the worst captain on the planet, to be honest, but they were always going to go hard in the Powerplay."
Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik admitted that in hindsight, his side should have had more of a plan on how to stunt Miller’s attack.
“He (Miller) was struggling throughout the ODI series, but he's a class player, and if he gets going we have to have two or three plans to stop him. He took the game away from us. We were in the game till the 15th over. Later we were expecting to chase about 160 but we gave away some extra runs.
"Every game is a new game, and a new opportunity. Whatever's happened has happened. If we get a similar situation in the coming games, the goal is to stay calm and not panic."
There were some flourishes from Pakistan, who were in control for large parts of the game before relinquishing their hold on it at key points. Malik highlighted the lack of support that bowlers like Imad Wasim received as a key reason his side weren’t able to contain South Africa in the final overs of their innings.
“Of course, if someone bowls three overs in the Powerplay and contains the batsmen, he's an exceptional talent. We needed a couple of other guys to perform that way. You need three/four bowlers to do well, and then you end up chasing 160 rather than 180.”
Despite the brilliance of Babar Azam and Hussain Talat with the bat for Pakistan, Malik was left frustrated that such a promising start wasn’t converted in to a win that would have kept the series alive.
"It was an exceptional game, but you wanted to win the game. Not like the previous one. This time we had the game, but we couldn't hit the last couple of boundaries. He (Azam) is a class player. The game shouldn't have gone to the 20th over, the set batsman should finish the game. The partnership was excellent, but finishing crucial games is where we're lacking. We're going to sit and talk about it, particularly the last overs.”
The teams now move on to SuperSport Park on Wednesday, 6 February for the final match in this series.