THE Blue Label Telecoms Proteas managed to pull back from the abyss of defeat for the second match in a row to beat the Netherlands by six runs in their third Pool A match at the ICC World Twenty20 in Chittagong on Thursday.
It is a result that keeps their semi-final hopes alive. The position should become clearer after tonight’s second match between Sri Lanka and England.
The Proteas, after being put into bat, only managed a below-par total of 145 after being well in charge at 84/2 after eight overs. But their attempts to improve their scoring rate only resulted in giving catch practice to the outfielders and they were very nearly bowled out inside the 20 overs.
The only contribution of note came from Hashim Amla who made 43 off 22 balls with seven fours and a six.
Arshan Malik returned career-best figures of 5/19 as he totally confused the Proteas with his slow off-cutters.
The Proteas needed to strike quickly when they bowled but the match looked to have gone right away from them when Stefan Myburgh (51 off 28 balls, 8 fours and 2 sixes), who has played most of his first-class cricket in the South African semi-professional competition, blitzed the Netherlands to 63/1 in the power play overs compared to the 58/2 of the Proteas.
Once again Faf du Plessis had to rely on Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir to get the team out of a hole by taking 6/40 between them in their combined quota of 8 overs.
Imran was named Man of the Match for his figures of 4/21 which was an appropriate way to celebrate his 35th birthday.
The rest of the attack will have to lift itself considerably for the England game on Saturday evening but, as Du Plessis commented afterwards, the Proteas were a good 40 to 50 percent below par in all departments.