David Miller was named the Man of the Match on Sunday night, but with Pakistan needing 15 runs off the last six balls to go past South Africa’s 188 for 3 and level the three-T20I series, all the focus, and pressure, was on Andile Phehlukwayo, who had been saved for the last over.
Miller wasn’t at his calmest, but Phehlukwayo was. “Andile kept telling me, ‘Don’t worry, I got this; don’t worry, I got this’. So I left him to his plans and he pulled it off. So, incredible bowling to him,” Miller said after the seven-run win in Johannesburg.
It was Miller’s first game as captain of South Africa, and despite his unbeaten 65 in 29 balls in the first half, the match looked headed Pakistan’s way at the start of the chase. After five overs, Pakistan were 63 for 1 and coasting. But Tabraiz Shamsi and debutant fast bowler Lutho Sipamla pulled things back nicely in a three-over period in which only 13 runs were conceded.
“The first six (overs) were more stressful than the back four. Saying that, the guys bowled extremely well to bring it back from the start we had. Our plans got better and better towards the end,” said Miller, who also admitted to being a “bit like deer in the headlights” at the early stages.
“He’s got a level head and lots of variations, and he really pulled them out tonight”
David Miller on Andile Phehlukwayo
“It was only Shamsi’s over that we didn’t prep to bowl in the first six, but we had to try something different. We were under massive pressure. It was something different, we just tried something out of the box.”
But it still came down to the ever-improving Phehlukwayo to do the job at the end. After telling Miller not to worry, he conceded a four to Shoaib Malik first ball, but then gave away just three more runs while also sending back Malik and Hasan Ali.
“He’s just going from strength to strength. He’s bowled incredibly well. He bowled well in the ODIs, and now he’s just continuing with that momentum, and maturity as well. He’s got a level head and lots of variations, and he really pulled them out tonight,” Miller gushed.
South Africa had two debutants on the day: Janneman Malan, the top-order batsman, and pace bowler Sipamla. Malan hit 33 in 31 balls opening the innings, and Sipamla was impressive in giving away just 23 runs in four overs, though he didn’t get a wicket.
“Sipamla bowled incredibly well, Malan came in and showed that he belonged here. So really good signs for the Proteas for the future. The talent is definitely there and it’s really rewarding to win this game and not take it down to the last game,” Miller said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it (captaincy). First time for the Proteas, so a little bit nervous. But as the innings went on, I just tried to be as calm as I could and stick to the plans we had prepared before the game. At the end of the day, the result takes care of itself.”
He enjoyed his time out with the bat too, teeing off in the final over, slamming Usman Shinwari for 29 runs, inclusive of a no-ball.
“Last over, you’ve got to swing from the hip. Took him down the first one or two balls and I was just trying to set myself and hit my areas. He bowled in certain areas that I quite enjoyed. I was just trying to take it deep and hit it as far as possible,” Miller explained.