Half-centuries from each of South Africa’s openers and a disciplined combined bowling display consigned Ireland to their third defeat of the DafaNews Cup T20 series, despite an improved batting performance from the hosts.
Proteas captain Temba Bavuma won the toss and elected to bat, and did the bulk of the work setting an imposing total himself, with his 51-ball 72 marking his maiden fifty in T20I cricket. Reeza Hendricks added 69, and between them they put on 127, South Africa’s highest stand in T20I cricket against Ireland, and their best partnership for the first wicket against anyone in men’s cricket since 2009.
To begin with they were kept in check by Ireland, scoring at just over a run a ball in the first 10 overs, with only five boundaries coming in the first half of the innings.
A dropped chance in the 11th over brought about the second six of the day, White tipping a shot from Hendricks off Singh over the rope. The moment seemed almost to galvanise the tourists, with at least 10 runs coming off each of the last 10 overs.
Singh struck in the 15th over, Hendricks edging a reverse-sweep behind, but that only brought David Miller to the crease. He smashed an unbeaten 17-ball 36, enough to seal him the Player of the Series award, with Bavuma the only other wicket to fall, holing out to Mark Adair at deep square off Barry McCarthy. South Africa’s 189-2 was the highest score of the series.
Ireland had positives to take with the bat, also making their best total of the three-game encounter. While Kevin O’Brien fell early, Paul Stirling started strongly, with an expansive lofted six over extra cover arguably the shot of the day.
He departed for 19, a leading edge swirling to third man, but Andrew Balbirnie carried on, striking four boundaries in his 27 before being pinned lbw by George Linde. Still, at the halfway stage Ireland were 75-3, three wickets worse off than South Africa, but ahead on runs at the equivalent point in the innings.
However, the first ball in the second 10 overs brought Lorcan Tucker’s enterprising knock to an end, inside-edging Wiaan Mulder’s first ball to the keeper, and the all-rounder struck again with the last ball of the over. A mini-slide, including two run outs, saw Ireland slip from 92-5 to 102-8, Singh, Shane Getkate and Adair falling in quick succession.
Despite a late rally, at this stage the game was beyond Ireland as the tourists secured a third comfortable win of the week.