Proteas Hold Nerve For Famous Series Win
Posted by: Cricket South Africa on Wednesday, 22 February 2012

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THE Proteas awarded new caps in the T20 International series against New Zealand to Richard Levi and Marchant de Lange and their performances have given a huge boost to South Africa’s prospects ahead of this year’s ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Levi won the second match almost single-handedly with his world record century and on Wednesday it was the turn of De Lange to bowl a nerve-jangling final over, take 2/3, and get the Proteas home to a three-run victory and a 2-1 series win.

This result also means that the two countries swop positions on the ICC T20 rankings, with the Proteas now at No. 2 and the Black Caps dropping down to No. 4.

“This was a wonderful victory,” commented Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO Gerald Majola. “The Proteas revealed a never-say-die spirit, great team work and an ability to hold their nerve when it really counted.

“The way they handled the pressure in the final overs when New Zealand needed less than a run a ball with plenty of wickets in hand to win both the match and the series speaks volumes for the progress the Proteas have made under the leadership of Gary Kirsten and AB de Villiers.

“We congratulate them on an outstanding victory and look forward with confidence and excitement to the second leg of the tour which starts with the first of three ODIs in Wellington on Saturday.” (03h00 start CAT)

New Zealand had appeared to be cantering to victory when they needed 35 runs in the last six overs with plenty of wickets in hand and Jesse Ryder controlling the runs chase effectively.

But the Proteas were far from finished as Man of the Match Johan Botha, Morne Morkel and De Lange bowled four brilliant closing overs between them to turn the game around.

Morkel went for a miserly five in his last over and Botha produced the key moment when he dismissed Ryder (52 off 42 balls, 5 fours and 2 sixes) and conceded just 5 runs in his last two overs.

This gave De Lange a little bit in hand (7 runs needed off 6 balls) although the match was still New Zealand’s to win or lose.

The rookie’s pace proved far too much for the New Zealand lower order as he took 2/1 off his first five balls – a magnificent effort. That put the Proteas in the relatively comfortable position of defending a lead of 5 runs off the last ball.

Switching to bowling around the wicket to the left-handed James Franklin De Lange bowled a no ball which also went for a single, meaning New Zealand could win with a four off the last delivery.

But Tim Southee could not get bat on ball to the last delivery and De Lange had bowled the Proteas to a memorable victory.

Earlier the Proteas had failed to capitalise on a strong position after being put into bat when they reached 109/3 in 12 overs with both De Villiers and JP Duminy in fine form. They suffered a double blow when Duminy was run out at the non-striker’s wicket (38 off 20 balls, 2 fours and 2 sixes) and De Villiers fell awkwardly to suffer severe bruising of the buttock.

He had difficulty in running between the wickets thereafter and perished trying to hit a boundary as a consequence (29 off 23 balls, 2 fours and a six).

The Proteas barely scored more than a run a ball for the rest of the innings but fortunately it proved to be sufficient, if only just!

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum summed it up perfectly. “South Africa put us under pressure and to their credit, they held their nerve. We just weren't good enough at the end there, we faltered.”

De Villiers commented: “An amazing team effort! I am really proud of the boys and the way we hung in at the end. It was really tough batting first and assessing what was a good total. Unfortunately we lost momentum in the middle overs.
“The whole team showed great big match temperament and we managed to get a few wickets to turn things around. We do feel very good about the win, but we want to play a certain standard of cricket and we still need to do that more consistently.”


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