The young Brandon Mavuta has made the cricket world sit up and take notice after four brilliant performances in four matches against South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s 21-year-old leg-spinning all-rounder has been one of the highlights in the Zimbabwean side and has continued to impress in the first T20I of the series against South Africa, having already made a splash in the recently concluded ODI series against their always-challenging geographical neighbours.
Mavuta’s youthful energy and confidence – evident in the frost-tipped dreadlocks and the distinct bounce in his step – has been backed up by his influence on the match every time he gets the ball in his hands.
Although Zimbabwe are currently 4-0 down on this white-ball tour, Mavuta has been influential in almost every game. He found his feet on debut in Kimberley, his maiden ODI wicket being the dismissal of fellow debutant Christiaan Jonker. That was followed by an impressive 2-48 in 10 overs in the second ODI in Bloemfontein as he once again got the better of Jonker, before adding Khaya Zondo to the scalps on his belt as the Proteas were reduced to 92-6 before Dale Steyn saved their blushes.
It was in Paarl that we got a glimpse of his talents with the bat as his quickfire 18 runs helped Zimbabwe beyond the 200-run mark after having elected to bat first. He then sparked the Zim comeback in the final ODI, his dismissal of SA captain Faf du Plessis inducing a mini-collapse as the Proteas went from 117-1 to 156-4 in the blink of an eye.
The young man keeps improving with each performance and he stood tallest during the first T20I in East London, with sensational outings with both bat and ball. Mavuta came into the attack as Du Plessis (back from injury) smashed the bowlers to all parts of Buffalo Park. The young leggie set the trap for the hard-hitting Proteas skipper and then dropped the lever, confident that Du Plessis would attack the cover boundary. Mavuta floated his first ball full and wide and the set-up worked perfectly, as Du Plessis holed out to deep extra cover for 34 off 20 balls.
‘I was ready for it,’ Mavuta told ESPNCricinfo. ‘I made sure that by the time I went to bowl the first ball, I was on top of my game and I was mentally prepared. I’m quite happy it came off.’
His spell was the most economical of the Zim attack as he finished with 1-19 in four overs, at an economy rate of 4.75 runs to the over.
‘I just took my time,’ said Mavuta said. ‘I just took it ball by ball. I bowled wicket to wicket, with a little variation, and tried not to let the batsmen get on top of me. If he misses, I hit.’
Mavuta also came to the party with the bat and gave the visitors a glimmer of hope even after they had floundered to a sorry-looking 70-7 inside 13 overs in chase of a 161-run target. His explosive eight-wicket partnership with Peter Moor (44 off 21 balls, one four, five sixes) yielded 53 runs for his team’s cause – temporarily silencing the home crowd as the pressure unexpectedly mounted on the South African bowling attack. In the desperate dash for runs, he eventually holed out and was caught by Lungi Ngidi at third man off Junior Dala, his 28 off 14 balls (two fours, two sixes) the second-highest score in the Zimbabwe innings.
Moor was the first to recognise the young player’s contribution, describing the young talent as ‘a fearless guy’.
‘I was so proud of him for the way he went about his innings. As a young man, being able to go out and do that against a top-quality side sends a huge message to the world. He got out and was a bit unlucky with a low full toss, but he did really well. I was really happy with him,’ said Moor.
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