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Rediff.com  » Cricket » How SA escaped to victory with Steyn fire

How SA escaped to victory with Steyn fire

March 25, 2014 08:38 IST

Dale Steyn showed why he is regarded as one of the best fast bowlers in world cricket by fashioning one of South Africa's great escapes in recent times.

The speedster bowled one of the great final overs in the history of T20 International cricket to earn South Africa their first victory of the ICC World Twenty20 by a nail-biting two runs against New Zealand, at Chittagong, on Monday.

Dale SteynWhen he started his final over, he faced the unenviable task of having only five runs to defend to secure victory, six to allow the game to go to a super over while New Zealand needed seven for victory.

As it turned out, Steyn conceded only four runs, took two wickets and effected a run-out off the last ball to complete a stunning victory.

- Scorecard

He finished with figures of 4 for 17, plus the run-out of Ross Taylor, who was unable to get the final delivery away.

- Photos from the match
 
This was one rare occasion which nobody can accuse South Africa of not holding their nerve or choking in the final stages.

In fact, it was New Zealand who let the game slip away after they needed 55 off 40 balls, with eight wickets intact and Taylor just having hit Morne Morkel out of the attack with three successive sixes.

AB de Villiers then took a brilliant catch in the outfield off Steyn to remove Kane Williamson after a stand of 51 for the third wicket off only 31 balls.

New Zealand still had the match well in hand when they needed 29 runs off three overs, 21 off two overs and seven off the last over.

Taylor finished unbeaten on 62 (37 balls, 4 fours and 3 sixes) but crucially only faced one ball in the last over when his various partners lost the plot.

With the bat, J P Duminy, also produced one of his best ever efforts, making an unbeaten 86 off 43 balls (3 sixes and 10 fours) for a strike rate of 200 per cent. He scored 39 of those runs in the last four overs when the Proteas slogged 57 runs to give themselves a total that proved to be just defendable.

Imran Tahir also played a key role in the middle of the innings with two wickets to give him five in the tournament to date.

South Africa may only be in third place on run rate behind Sri Lanka and New Zealand but they have played both these teams and the latter two still have to play one another. If the Proteas beat the Netherlands on Thursday and England on Saturday, they will have every chance of finishing in the top two and qualifying for the semi-final.

Defeat against the Kiwis would have left their fate dependant on the results of other teams and that emphasizes the greatness of Steyn’s performance.

Image: Dale Steyn celebrates winning the match against New Zealand.

Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images