South Africa went through several anxious moments before their bowlers clinched a nail-biting six-run victory over minnows the Netherlands in their World Twenty20 match in Chittagong on Thursday.
Put in to bat, the Proteas suffered a batting collapse after a strong start and could post a modest 145 for nine.
Dutch pacer Ahsan Malik Jamil did most of the damage, finishing with figures of five for 19.
At one stage in the Netherlands’ reply it appeared that the Proteas were heading for an embarrassing defeat, but the Dutch inexperience in the shortest format of the game let them off the hook, in the Super 10 Group 1 match at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
The Netherlands were seemed cruising at 116 for four in the 13th over, thanks to a brilliant 28-ball 51 by opener Stephan Myburgh. But with just 40 runs more needed from seven overs and six wickets in hand, they lost their way.
Six batsmen fell for 20 runs and they were all out for 139 in 18.4 overs.
Ben Copper (5), Tom Copper (16), Pieter Seelaar (2), Logan van Beek (1), Timm van der Gugten (8) and Mudassar Bukhari (11) were unable to apply themselves and steer the Netherlands to what could have been the biggest upset of the tournament.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir was the pick of the South African bowlers with four wickets for 21 runs, while fast bowler Dale Steyn chipped in with two wickets.
Beuran Hendricks, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and J P Duminy took a wicket each.
With Thursday’s result, South Africa have four points from two victories and a defeat and remain in the race for a place in the semi-finals.
They earlier lost to Sri Lanka in their campaign opener but bounced back with a win over New Zealand.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, are yet to open their account. They lost to Sri Lanka in their opening match after being shot out for 39, the lowest ever Twenty20 International total.
Earlier, pacer Malik Jamil (5 for 19) orchestrated a South African batting collapse.
Opener Hashim Amla, who is often criticized for his slow batting in the slam-bang format, top-scored for South Africa with a 22-ball 43, inclusive of seven fours and a six.
The South Africans suffered an early jolt when opener Quinton de Kock was dismissed for nought off the fifth ball of the innings but recovered to place themselves at a strong position by reaching 84 for three in the ninth over.
But once A B de Villiers (21) was out to the first ball of the 11th over, the South African batsmen failed to build partnerships against an inexperienced Dutch bowling attack.
They were 92 for three at the halfway mark but could add 53 runs in the last 10 overs for the loss of six wickets.
Image: Imran Tahir
Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images