A Super Over was needed to settle the first T20I between South Africa and Sri Lanka, with David Miller inspiring the Proteas to victory.
Miller had guided South Africa in their chase of 135 with an excellent 23-ball 41, but with 18 runs needed from the final four overs, the Proteas collapsed spectacularly. Some brilliant bowling from Lasith Malinga and an excellent last over from Isuru Udana saw the match heading towards a tie, with a Super Over needed to settle the result.
Miller took to the crease once more alongside Rassie van der Dussen, and collected 14 from Malinga’s over. In reply, Thisara Perera and Avishka Fernando – on his T20I debut – had no answer to the wily and emotionally-charged Imran Tahir, with only five runs coming off the leg-spinner.
The Super Over followed on from a match in which runs proved difficult to come by. Barring a 29-ball 41 from Kamindu Mendis, Sri Lanka struggled to really get going across their 20 overs.
Dale Steyn had Niroshan Dickwella out from the second ball of the innings – a whish of the bat outside off-stump seeing an edge through to Miller, who took the gloves instead of Quinton de Kock. It set the tone for the rest of the innings.
Lusty blows followed from Fernando, but on a difficult pitch that offered batsmen little fluency, South Africa’s bowlers took control. Tahir offered control, while Andile Phehlukwayo was among the wickets – he finished with 3/25 from his four overs, including a burst of two wickets in two balls.
In response, the South African chase was strangled by Sri Lanka’s use of spin. A run out accounted for Reeza Hendricks, before Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya and Jeffrey Vandersay halted the flow of runs, while chipping away with wickets.
It was the 66-run partnership of van der Dussen and Miller that eased South Africa’s nerves. Miller was particularly brilliant, seemingly batting on another pitch, as he deposited Isuru Udana for 20 off the 15th over.
That should have settled the game, but Lasith Malinga intervened quite brilliantly. Bowling the 17th over, Malinga removed van der Dussen, before Miller was run out trying to sneak two runs through the leg-side. A couple of boundaries from Phehlukwayo then swung the momentum back South Africa’s way before he fell to de Silva. Malinga then returned to remove Kagiso Rabada – his final over conceded just one run to go along with the wicket.
The last over saw Udana back into the attack, and his slower balls proved difficult to get away. With two needed from the final ball, Imran Tahir’s under-edge bounced to Niroshan Dickwella behind the stumps, but the keeper – with both of his gloves still on – failed to throw down the stumps.
A Super Over beckoned, and Miller returned to put things right.