David Miller’s 75 off 44 saved the visitors from 58 for 5
South Africa159 for 7 (Miller 75*, Stirling 2-12) beat Ireland 117 (Getkate 24, Shamsi 3-14, Fortuin 3-16) by 42 runs
Miller’s spectacular 44-ball 75 was largely responsible for South Africa scoring 101 runs off the last 10 overs and 68 in the last five to ruin an Irish display that started off miserly. Josh Little’s economy rate shot up after his first spell of 1 for 14 in two overs to 1 for 42 at the end while Mark Adair’s more than doubled from 1 for 8 in his first two overs to 2 for 33 in his final analysis.
Only Mulder and Aiden Markram suffered similarly expensive fates as South Africa defended their total albeit with a new look attack. With Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje rested, Lungi Ngidi was the pace spearhead, assisted by left-arm quick Beuran Hendricks, who made his first appearance in the series. While Ngidi and Bjorn Fortuin held their ends, Hendricks made key incisions but it was the world’s top-ranked T20I bowler who stole the show.
South Africa endured their worst start in a T20I after they lost their first two wickets in four balls without a run on the board. Temba Bavuma and Janneman Malan were dismissed in identical fashion, playing away from the body and edging to short third man. Little was the man in place and took the first catch low down and the second at shoulder height to dismiss both batters for ducks and add to the many firsts South Africa have already had on this tour. Not only did they lose to Ireland for the first time in an ODI and play them for the first time in a T20I, but they have also now lost two wickets without scoring a run for the first time in a T20I.
It’s Miller-Mulder time
While there is still much work for South Africa’s middle order to do, their finishers played their part after coming together at the end of the 10th over, with the score on 58 for 5. Miller and Mulder put on 58 for the sixth wicket, in 43 balls. They started out watchfully with boundary-less overs off Stirling and Little, and Miller should have been out for 19 when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker. Miller then pulled Simi Singh through deep midwicket for four before Mulder hit him for six over deep midwicket to bowl his exceptional figures. The pair scored a combined 25 runs off the 16th and 17th overs and were well set to end the innings strongly. Mulder didn’t last to the end and was caught at long-on off the first ball of the 18th over but Miller went on to his third 50-plus score batting at No. 6 or lower. He single-handedly scored 32 out of the 36 runs off the last two overs, including five sixes and three in succession of the last three balls that came off Little.
Things are not getting better for Kevin O’Brien who collected his second duck of the series and third successive in international cricket. On the evidence of his dismissals, O’Brien seems to be struggling with his timing on the drive as he was bowled by Fred Klaasen playing away from his body in an ODI against Netherlands last month, then chipped a ball that moved a touch late back to Kagiso Rabada in the first T20I and then attempted to drive an overpitched Fortuin ball in this match but gave the left-arm spinner a simple return catch. Ireland were 1 for 1 after one over and may need to look at other options in the top two.
Drop, drop, catch (again)
South Africa have made a habit of putting down chances in Ireland and, as was the case in the first T20I, they dropped two before they started holding on. Andy Balbirnie was let off in the second over when he steered Ngidi to Fortuin at short third man. The ball hit him in the chest area and he could not clasp it. Five overs later, Dockrell should have been Hendricks’ second wicket when he drove to mid-on where Aiden Markram dived to his left and tumbled, without the ball. But that’s where the fumbles stopped. Shamsi had Stirling caught by Miller at deep midwicket before Fortuin made up for his blunder and held on to a low chance, diving forward at cover, to dismiss Tector, and Markram also redeemed himself with a well-judged catch on the long-on rope to end Dockrell’s knock.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent