Shamsi's turn to script another great escape for the Proteas

15 June 2024 - 06:42
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Tabriaz Shamsi celebrates as the Proteas win narrowly by one run against Nepal
Tabriaz Shamsi celebrates as the Proteas win narrowly by one run against Nepal
Image: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

“It was closer than we needed it to be,” Tabraiz Shamsi remarked after the Proteas escaped with another narrow win in the T20 World Cup on Saturday morning.

Aiden Markram’s team avoided the embarrassment of losing to Nepal, claiming a one-run victory in St Vincent and testing not only their own resilience, but also how much more luck they have in their suitcases. 

A stiff New York breeze did just enough to hold up Bangladesh’s Mahmudullah attempt at a match-winning six in the final over of South Africa's previous match and on Saturday it was the back of Nepal’s 18-year-old Gulsan Jha which proved pivotal during a manic finish. 

Needing two off the last ball to secure a historic win — which would have been Nepal’s first against a Full Member nation — Jha played and missed at a bouncer from Ottniel Baartman. Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s throw towards the non-striker’s end struck Jha on the back, deflecting the ball to midwicket where Heinrich Klaasen picked it up and then underarmed it onto the stumps with Jha centimetres short of his ground.

“The team is standing up to the pressure, which is amazing to see,” said Shamsi, attempting to put a positive spin on it.

His left-arm wrist spin was the primary reason South Africa got into a winning position in defence of a paltry target of 116. Shamsi claimed 4/19, picking up two of those wickets in his first over, putting the brakes on an excellent start by the Nepalese.

The drama escalated from there, but with Aasif Sheikh at the crease, Nepal, felt they had the upper hand. The Proteas, despite some sloppy moments in the field, kept taking wickets, including one for skipper Aiden Markram and put themselves ahead of t the game, when Anrich Nortjé bowled Kusal Malla. Before then Shamsi had bowled Sheikh for 42 with a beautiful delivery that spun back through the gap between bat and pad and clipped the off bail.

But a sumptuous six over square leg from Sompal Kami, off a Nortje slower ball, raised Nepal’s hopes again and when Jha struck Baartman for four through the covers in the last over, the numerous Nepalese fans in the stands exulted. 

However, between them, Baartman, De Kock and Klaasen kept their cool to leave those fans and the players they’d come to support crestfallen. 

“I don’t think we were anywhere near our best tonight, and for large parts of the game we probably didn’t think we would be on the right side of the result. Grateful for the victory, but when we reflect back on this game, there will be a lot of lessons for us,” said Markram.

First and foremost there is the batting, which failed again. It’s the third match in a row in which South Africa have not topped 120 and while conditions were conducive to spin — with 12 of the 14 wickets in the match falling to turn — a total of 115/7 was a poor effort. 

“From our side, there was not enough conviction in our plans (with the bat), there was a lack of intensity and you can get stuck and I think that is what happened tonight.”

Reeza Hendricks top-scored with 43, though it was an innings that lacked flow, while De Kock and Markram, again struggled to make an impression. South Africa had reached the halfway point in their innings on 57/1, providing the perfect platform for an assault. But that never occurred, as Nepal through off-spinner Dipendra Airee with 3/21 and leggie Kushal Burtal who took 4/19, tied them in knots. 

The Proteas lost three wickets for 14 runs in 19 balls, and if it wasn’t for Tristan Stubbs’ unbeaten 27 off 18 balls, the final result would not have gone in their favour. 

Markram admitted afterwards that he had misread conditions at the Arnos Vale Stadium. “In hindsight, we probably should have picked an extra spinner for this wicket. I didn’t think it would spin that much. The bowlers, all of them, kept us in the game all night and a lot of credit must go their way ... again,” he said. 

Kesha Maharaj sat out the match, with Markram saying Shamsi deserved a run after time out with an injury. “Kesh has been a genius, he’s been bowling really well and he still has a massive role to play for us in this tournament.

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.