Promoted to No 3 in the order, Dwaine Pretorius blasted a maiden T20I half-century to power the Proteas to 198-2 at the Wanderers. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
Lasith Malinga’s decision to send the Proteas into bat first seemed to backfire as Reeza Hendricks and Pretorius battered the visitors. It wasn’t a wicketless operation that the hosts might have hoped for, but they still managed to dominate a hapless Sri Lankan bowling attack.
Aiden Markram failed to take advantage of his opportunity at the top of the order. After hitting Suranga Lakmal for a beautiful six over long leg, he aimed to go after the speedster again but was cheaply caught at midwicket.
Hendricks once again did what Markram couldn’t and reached a consecutive half-century. He hit 66 off 52 balls with eight fours and two sixes before his attacking approach led to his demise as he was bowled by Jeffrey Vandersa following an attempted slog-sweep.
Pretorius came in at No 3 and took his opportunity to show that he has the batting chops required on the big stage, scoring a superb 76 runs off 42 balls (seven fours, three sixes). He also strengthened the perception that he is the logical choice as the batting all-rounder for the Proteas’ World Cup squad.
After the fall of Hendricks, Duminy came in and once again showed his power-hitting capabilities in the final overs, smacking 34 runs off just 14 balls. The Proteas stand-in skipper’s innings was highlighted by two monstrous sixes – one over mid-wicket and another over the long-on boundary – as he showcased his immaculate technique and timing.
Pretorius and Duminy scored 71 runs off the last five overs in an incredible partnership that pushed the Proteas total to within two runs of an impressive 200, with Sri Lanka facing a testing challenge of needing 199 runs for the win. In their favour is the fact that the wickets is playing well and true, so we could still be in for an absorbing run-chase
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