South Africa, partly jolted by the Dutch, hold their nerves to win well again

Once a fluke, twice a chance but the third time a concern is what South Africa would have experienced had Netherlands beaten them yesterday for a consecutive third time in the mother of all tournaments.

Yes, the Dutch were instrumental in knocking the Proteas out of the 2022 T20 World Cup followed by coming up tops again in the 2023 ODI World Cup and almost seemed to punch above their weight for the third time had it not been for a certain David Miller.

Amid a sunbaked Nassau County in the Big Apple, the experienced southpaw ensured the disaster was averted and the blushes were saved for his team as a concerned South African dug out looked on in anticipation mixed with jitters hoping the Dutch delight was just an anomaly and not a way of their cricketing fortitude when it came to playing against the Mzansi.

Well for South Africa’s sake, the former turned out to be true!

There was a sense of relief as Miller hoisted de Leede over square leg for a maximum ensuring South Africa scraped to the target of 104 having seen more than half their side reeling in plight on a pitch where stroke making was as difficult as attaining world peace.

To put things into perspective, batting has been a prodigious effort on these drop-in pitches at Nassau County with a six only coming once every 37 deliveries, a gap as wide as the inequality in South Africa.

The unequal bounce coupled with the slowness of the wicket and the gigantic boundary dimensions have kept every batter on their toes with singles and twos being the order of the day.

Having said this, South Africa has found a way of coming on top on both the occasions they have played on this surface with Heinrich Klaasen ensuring the Proteas managed to conquer Sri Lanka’s target of 77 before Miller’s heroics last evening.

This has undoubtedly infused a sense of belief in the Protea ranks with grilling out a victory in situations deemed unfavorable for batting which has certainly been a breath of fresh air as historically we have seen them wilt in the most encouraging situations of triumph.

Credit also must be given to their bowlers particularly Anrich Nortje who has rediscovered his mojo with six wickets to his name in two matches at a miserly economy rate of just 3.25 having been carved for runs aplenty in the IPL.

He has been ably supported by the new sensation of Protea bowling, Ottneil Baartman who himself has notched up five cherries at an economy rate of 2.5 and a wicket coming every four balls.

With the bowling looking top class and the batting find a way to conquer those small but rather trying targets, South Africa undoubtedly looks comfortable to reach the next round and possibly carve a way to even enter the knockouts.

Some would say it’s too soon to speak about the knockouts albeit the pragmatic approach the Proteas have demonstrated to win their first two games puts them in a good stead to conquer Bangladesh and then Nepal with the Super Eights being their canvas to shine.

Possibly mounting the zenith of attaining the long eluding glory could now be a possibility. Who knows?

But the goal is well in sight one step at a time!

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