David Miller pummels Potch into cricket history
David Andrew Miller! Who do you think you are, breaking world records in what should have been a sleepy Sunday afternoon in Potchefstroom?
SA’s lusty, lively left-hander came to the crease with only half the innings left in the second T20 against Bangladesh, and saw a catch dropped off the first ball he faced. He might also have been taken out of the equation for a mere 18.
But, after 35 deliveries had been bowled to him, Miller raised his bat to celebrate conquering not only his maiden century in the format at this level but also the fastest yet scored in internationals in the format.
Miller raced into cricket’s history books with the help of seven fours and nine sixes — more than 80% of his undefeated 101. That took SA, put in to bat for the fifth time in the seven games of the tour, to an elephantine total of 224/4.
Bangladesh were dismissed for 141 in 18.3 overs to give the home side victory by 83 runs and with that the distinction of having won every match they played against a touring team for the first time since games were played in all three formats in this country, in 2005-06.
SA won both Tests by large margins before reeling off a hat-trick of victories in the one-day internationals and adding successes in the two T20s.
But, for a while on Sunday, it looked like Bangladesh might not go home with a dismally clean sheet. After 9.5 overs SA were on 78/3 with Mangaliso Mosehle, JP Duminy and AB de Villiers all dismissed.
If the home side were going to set a decent target, Hashim Amla would surely have to do most of the setting. He was on 49 not out and going unusually aggressively when De Villiers was caught in the deep for 20.
That was when Miller strode to the middle …
Seven overs later Amla hammered a catch down deep cover’s throat to go for his bristling 85, which took him 51 balls and featured 11 fours and a six.
Miller was on 42 not out at that stage and there were only 21 balls left in the innings. Could he get himself to a century before the umpires cried mercy?
Hell yes. Miller needed just 15 deliveries to reap the remaining 58 runs — 31 of them in one spectacular over from seamer Mohammad Saifuddin.
The first ball disappeared wide over the long-on fence for six. The second cleared the cover boundary for another half-dozen.
Miller sent the third screaming into the crowd beyond square leg: six. A panicked Saifuddin veered down leg with the fourth ball, and Miller helped it over the fine leg ropes: six.
Ball five was dropped short, which was Miller’s cue for a mighty pull: six.
Nog enetjie? Met eish? Nee, jammer. Saifuddin put his last, whimpering offering wide outside off stump. And all Miller could do was spear it along the ground into the covers for a single, which elicited a gasp of disappointment from him.
His ordeal at last done, Saifuddin collected his cap from the umpire, used it to cover his face, and walked slowly into the outfield, beaten and bowed.
How different his day might have panned out had wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, diving full length down the leg side, managed to hang on to the difficult chance Miller gloved off Rubel Hossain off his first ball.
Or if the bottom edge Miller got to Mahmudullah in the 15th over when he was on 18 had trickled back onto his stumps or had been collected by Mushfiqur in time to run him out. Instead Miller rose from his back having scrambled to make his ground and swatted Mahmudullah’s next ball over long-off for six.
It was almost cruel to send the shell-shocked Bangladeshis out to bat after all that, and they duly capitulated.
Opener Soumya Sarkar’s 47 was the sturdiest effort in an innings in which six others were dismissed in the single figures.
JP Duminy and Aaron Phangiso took two wickets each, and Duminy and Robbie Frylinck conceded less than a run-a-ball. But the talk of Potch for years to come, will be a young man who knows how to hit a cricket ball.