THE Castle Lager Proteas regained control of their destiny at the ICC Champions Trophy Tournament when they beat Pakistan by 67 runs with five overs to spare in their second Group B match at Edgbaston on Monday.
The result moves the Proteas back into a positive run rate and they join India and West Indies on two points with Pakistan yet to get off the mark. The Proteas are currently in third place but they are almost certain to go second after tomorrow’s other second round Group B match between India and the West Indies at The Oval.
The Proteas play their final Group match against the West Indies at Cardiff on Friday.
Today’s result was a huge plus for the Proteas who held their nerve under pressure and also overcame the adversity of being without their two leading bowlers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
The Proteas had to defend a slightly modest total of 234 but the seam bowling trio of Ryan McLaren (a career-best 4/19), Lonwabo Tsotsobe (2/23) and new cap Chris Morris (2/25) did a superb job and Pakistan never got up to speed with the required run rate.
The seamers were well supported by the spin trio of Aaron Phangiso, Robbie Peterson and JP Duminy who bowled 21 overs between them for three wickets while conceding 93 runs.
The other piece of good news for the Proteas was that Dale Steyn started bowling in the nets and is likely to be available for Friday’s showdown with the West Indies.
The Proteas total was set up by man-of-the-match Hashim Amla who made 81 off 97 balls with nine boundaries – an exceptional scoring rate on a pitch on which all the batsmen on both sides struggled to score freely.
The Proteas looked on target for a total in excess of 250 but the run out of AB de Villiers (31 off 31 balls, one four and one six) set them back with the inexperience of the rest of the middle-order being put to the test by an excellent Pakistan bowling performance.
Overall the result showed that the Proteas have learned some very important lessons from the opening defeat against India. There was a huge improvement not just in the bowling but in the fielding as well and the engine is starting to run a lot smoother than was the case last week.