Lungi Ngidi bagged 2-12 on debut as the Proteas sealed a 19-run win in their rain-affected clash against Sri Lanka in Centurion.
It was supposed to be a belter of a day, but the thunderstorms that hit Johannesburg decided to sweep across Pretoria on Friday, as intermittent drizzle threatened to force the game off. Eventually it subsided, and a sparkling 10-over clash saw the Proteas draw first blood going into the Wanderers contest on Sunday.
Farhaan Behardien impressed with the bat on his captaincy debut but it was the lethal blows of David Miller that really gave their innings some impetus, before Imran Tahir and 20-year-old Ngidi took two wickets apiece to quieten the visitors.
It continues a barren run for Sri Lanka, who lost 13 of their 16 T20s last year, while it marked the Proteas’ first win in this format on this ground since 2009.
Heino Kuhn and debutant JJ Smuts looked confident up front before veteran Nuwan Kulasekera saw off Kuhn for 10. Theunis de Bruyn then proceeded to hit a boundary off his first ball in international cricket, with Smuts launching the assault from the other end too.
Hitting out was the order of the day as Smuts (13) and De Bruyn (19) departed by the end of the fifth over, before David Miller and Farhaan Behardien combined to lethal effect, smashing a 50-run stand in under four overs. Miller fell for an 18-ball 40, but Behardien, as he did so excellently for the Titans in their successful T20 Challenge campaign, struck three fours and a six to push his side beyond the 120 mark.
The skipper finished on 31 off 18, while Mangaliso Mosehle bizarrely holds the best strike rate in T20 history, after he was run out for six off his one and only delivery in national colours.
Despite the daunting task of chasing down 127, the Sri Lankan openers picked apart the Proteas attack with ease in the first five overs, racing to a 50 stand largely thanks to the exploits of Niroshan Dickwella, who looked in excellent touch with two sixes and six fours.
A big over was needed from the hosts, and it came from their most experienced campaigner, as Imran Tahir removed Dickwella (43) and Dhanajaya de Silva (27) in the same over. Two balls into Aaron Phangiso’s second spell came the third wicket as Thikshila de Silva fell for a golden duck on debut.
The collapse continued emphatically, with three wickets falling for three runs. Ngidi went for nine off his first over, but his second yielded three runs for two wickets, as he saw off Seekkuge Prasanna (12) and Kusal Mendis (1) for the required run rate to escalate past 17.
Despite some flashy shots from Dinesh Chandimal and Asela Gunaratne late on, the damage was already done, leaving the tourists 19 runs short of the mark.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images