When the preview to the Australia-South Africa T20s began, there was not a lot of talk about David Miller since Chris Morris had done the job of finisher brilliantly for the team in both the ODIs and T20s against England. But, it needed only one game for Miller to remind everyone how crucial a role will have to play for South Africa in the World T20. Against Australia at the Kingsmead, Durban on Friday, he played the perfect finisher’s role, ensuring that South Africa recovered from a terrible collapse to win the contest with ease.
South Africa were chasing 158 to win the game. But, when Miller came into the crease, the Proteas were reeling at 72 for 4, which soon turned to 72 for 5 as Faf du Plessis was run out thanks to some smart work in the field. Clearly, Australia were favourites to win at that point. But, Miller has a lot of experience in such T20 situations, and brought the same to the fore. He chose his bowler intelligently, and smashed Andrew Tye for two sixes at a crucial phase of the chase. Those big hits, followed by a few before, saw to it that South Africa got home in the end.
While South Africa should thank Miller for his match-winning knock, the victory would have been difficult without support from their bowlers, who pulled back Australia in the second half of the innings. The Aussies had raced to 69 for 1 in the Power Play overs, but the Proteas bowlers were successful in keeping them down to 157. This was thanks in main to Imran Tahir, who again claimed crucial wickets, sending back the dangerous Aaron Finch, and then returning to run through the lower order, finishing with impressive figures of 3 for 21.
The overall bowling effort of South Africa was commendable, particularly their fight back after being torn apart early. Kagiso Rabada again struck the early blow, and was economical. Kyle Abbott provided him good support. David Wiese also complemented Tahir brilliantly. The fifth bowler is a worry though with JP Duminy and Morris going for plenty. In fact, Duminy’s lack of success in recent times poses a big worry for South Africa, as he registered another failure with the bat as well. Along with Duminy, the batting form of Rilee Rossouw is also worrisome.
Australia would be disappointed with how things ended, in complete contrast to how they began. They experienced with Usman Khawaja up the order in place of David Warner. It wasn’t a success, so it remains to be seen whether they continue with the same. Aaron Finch batted with freedom, relieved of captaincy duties. Middle order woes though remain for Australia as Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell have been constantly failing to deliver for the team. Peter Nevill too hasn’t been doing much lower down the order. In the bowling department, Tye was again taken apart, like in the last T20 against India. It remains to be seen how long Australia persist with him.
--By A Cricket Analyst