SA produced a fighting performance with the ball to edge Australia by 12 runs in a nail-biting second KFC Twenty20 International at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Defending a modest 158 runs, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and finally hometown hero Anrich Nortjé produced some superb death bowling under huge pressure to clinch the win and square the series up at 1-1 as the Aussies finished on 146/6.
The final match will be played at Newlands in Cape Town on Wednesday and if Sunday’s match is anything to go by, the sides look set for another humdinger.
Aussie opener David Warner carried his bat for an unbeaten 67 in a brave innings that was just not enough to get his side over the line.
It was a fine way for SA to bounce back after suffering a heavy defeat to the tourists in the first match in Johannesburg on Friday.
Quinton de Kock was the other star for the Proteas, belting 70 off only 47 deliveries at the top of the order.
Apart from Rassie van der Dussen (37), the rest of the Proteas’ batting order failed to fire and struggled to come to terms with the pace of the pitch.
The Aussies, who had won eight matches on the bounce, looked set for a comfortable win until Rabada, Ngidi and Nortjé produced four late wickets between them to seal the victory.
Ngidi was expensive up front but eventually finished with 3/41.
Earlier, SA won the toss and opted to take first strike.
So often the mainstay of the batting line-up, De Kock once again stood head and shoulders above his teammates in scoring his sixth half-century in this format.
It was a typically audacious innings from the talented left-hander as he started pulling, lapping and reverse-hitting the ball from the outset.
Apart from the aggressive innings by Van der Dussen, there was nothing else to write home about in the Proteas innings.
SA’s innings started off at breakneck speed with De Kock thrashing it at the top of the order but progressively slowed down when the SA skipper got out with five overs left.
After Friday’s debacle at the Wanderers, changes were needed in the Proteas batting line-up and Reeza Hendricks was brought in to open with De Kock. Hendricks managed a beautiful cover drive in his 14 off 17 but generally looked like someone trying to use the opportunity to play himself into the team.
Faf du Plessis came in and hit a boundary in his 15 off 14 before trying to hit a Pat Cummins slower ball into Park Drive.
David Miller battled with his timing in making 11 not out in 13 balls in the death overs, while Van der Dussen at least provided some impetus with 37 off 26.
Kane Richardson was excellent at the death for the Aussies and took 2/21 in his four overs to put the skids on any SA advance.