A counter-attacking 75* from David Miller has saved South Africa from batting chaos in Stormont, with the tourists eventually winning by 42 runs to claim the series over Ireland.
Miller entered with the tourists reeling at 58/5 at the halfway mark of the innings, though looked unfazed under pressure, combining with Wiaan Mulder (36) and the tail to add 101 runs from overs 11 to 20.
Needing eight an over in response, Ireland struggled to deal with the spin of Bjorn Fortuin (3/16) and Tabraiz Shamsi (3/14), who picked up three wickets each.
South Africa captain Temba Bavuma raised a few eyebrows when he elected to bat, and his own stay at the crease was short-lived as he fell to Paul Stirling (2/12) in the first over for a duck. Beaten by Stirling’s first delivery, Bavuma’s poorly-executed cover drive next ball found Josh Little in a short third man position, handing the Irish a near-perfect start.
South Africa’s early troubles were compounded just two balls later, with Little again called into action. With another ball going straight on with the arm, Stirling found the outside edge again, this time from Janneman Malan’s bat, whose poor footwork was punished.
Quinton de Kock attempted to rebuild with Aiden Markram, though the pair could only add 24 before Markram was beaten by quick Mark Adair (2/33) for eight, who made a mess of the No.4’s stumps. De Kock provided some respite in the Powerplay, scoring five of his team’s six boundaries, though fell for 27 off 20 after he was caught on the crease by the spin of Simi Singh (1/26) and adjudged lbw.
It brought Miller to the crease, who looked in control almost from start to finish in his stay at the crease. Losing Rassie van der Dussen at the other end who struggled to find a rhythm, Miller flourished in comparison, striking four fours and five of his team’s seven sixes in a game-changing knock.
Miller combined with Mulder in a 43-ball stand of 58, with Mulder contributing with 36 off 26 deliveries. Mulder was dismissed by Craig Young (1/39), as Miller guided his team to a defendable total of 159.
Kevin O’Brien’s lean run with the bat continued, hitting one back to Fortuin for a duck early in the hosts’ chase, with Andy Balbirnie unable to make the most of an early life, falling to Beuran Hendricks for just six.
Paul Stirling was joined by George Dockrell, and the pair moved Ireland to 38/2 at the end of the Powerplay, with Stirling passing Brendon McCullum to enter the top ten men’s T20I career run-scorers list. He eventually fell to World No.1 T20I bowler Shamsi for 19, while Harry Tector fell to off-spinner Markram for three.
Markram handed Dockrell a life when he put down a chance on the drive, though made amends, holding on to a second chance at long-on for Shamsi’s second. Dockrell’s 20 was only bettered by Shane Getkate’s 24 (18), who failed to emulate Miller’s trailblazing knock for the opposition in similar circumstances. Getkate was Shamsi’s third victim as he finished with 3/14 from his allotment, as Fortuin, Hendricks and Lungi Ngidi cleaned up the tail.
The teams return for the final match of the series on Saturday.
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