Wednesday, February 1, 2023 | Rilee rampant as Proteas right all the wrongs to emphatically... | Rilee rampant as Proteas right all the wrongs to emphatically square T20 series




What a difference 24 hours makes.

The Proteas righted every wrong from the previous night in Bristol as they squared the T20 series against England with a 58-run victory in Cardiff on Thursday night.

As a result, Sunday’s skirmish in Southampton will, appropriately, be the decider.

It was a highly impressive showing from David Miller and his teammates, who embraced being put in to bat by racking up an excellent total before being metamorphosed in the field.

Spearheading the atonement was Rilee Rossouw, who emphatically proved that the fuss around his international return from a near six-year absence was indeed justified.

RECAP | Clinical Proteas hit back to floor England, level series

Out early to a lazy hoick in Bristol, the 32-year-old left-hander showcased his familiar all-round game, interspersing brutal power with some deft innovations as he anchored the drive to 207/3 with a magnificent, unbeaten 96 off 55 deliveries.

It was an effort that featured 10 fours and five sixes and one rendered even more impressive by the fact that he was able to shrug off nudging a ramp shot off the pace of Richard Gleeson onto his jaw when he was on 72.

After some running repairs, Rossouw responded with a boundary and continued his merry ways.

Only an outstanding final over from Chris Jordan prevented him from becoming the first Protea since Miller in 2017 to score a T20I century.

Almost appropriately, his fellow former national Under-19 star and Knights teammate, Reeza Hendricks, provided the main support.

Following his impressive 57 on Wednesday night, the opener simply carried on where he left off, compiling a silky 53 off 32 and, much like Rassie van der Dussen in the ODIs, suggesting that he’s worked on becoming bogged down in certain innings.

Armed with a steep total to defend, the Proteas were superb in the field after their travails in the opening game, where they notably dropped Jonny Bairstow four times.

On this balmy Welsh evening, every catch stuck.

It started with Hendricks claiming a skied leading edge from Jos Buttler, Keshav Maharaj sublimely running around from wide long-off to dive forward and snap up the dangerous Moeen Ali’s offering and culminated in Lungi Ngidi grabbing Bairstow’s upper cut from behind his shoulders.

Such fielding speaks of character.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s vaunted T20 attack showed its class.

Tabraiz Shamsi, chastened after being hammered for 49 runs in 3 overs in Bristol, responded to the faith shown in him by reinforcing his pedigree as one of the world’s top short form exponents.

His 3/27 was a testament to the platform laid by Ngidi, whose varied deliveries at the start created pressure.

However, it was Andile Phehlukwayo who epitomised the Proteas’ steeliness.

Punished again initially by Buttler, he responded to conceding 16 off his first three deliveries by having the home captain caught off a slower ball.

Similarly, after just being hit for a boundary by Liam Livingstone, he had him caught behind immediately afterwards.

His figures of 3/39 off three weren’t perfect, but it certainly attested to his guts.

He wasn’t the only one to showcase that.       

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