Leie tames Tigers as SA clinch series

Times Media


TURNING pitches are about as common in SA as quiet streets are in Dhaka. So Eddie Leie’s eyes would have lit up when he was handed his first T20 cap in Bangladesh’s tumultuous capital on Tuesday. Or did they?

“I didn’t really think that; I just thought I should keep it simple,” leg spinner Leie said. “I tried not to look at the pitch too much to see if it was turning.”

Simplicity was certainly part of the reason Leie claimed 3/16, the best ever figures by a South African on T20 debut, to help his team win by 31 runs and wrap up a convincing 2-0 series victory.

But Leie also bowled with fantastic flight to have Soumya Sarkar superbly stumped by Quinton de Kock, obtained a touch of turn throughout, and found just a lick of luck – Mushfiqur Rahim clubbed a full toss to deep midwicket, where David Miller made a difficult catch look, well, simple.

Not that Leie hogged the whole of the moon. Aaron Phangiso showed the composure and skill that has taken him far and will take him further still in his haul of 3/30, while Kyle Abbott struck with three sniping yorkers in the last six legal deliveries he bowled – he also sent down a wide – to take a career-best 3/20.

“The difference between the teams was how we played spin, and how they tried to play our spinners,” Faf du Plessis said. And how.

Between the seventh and 15th overs on Tuesday, Leie, Phangiso and JP Duminy conceded only 51 runs while taking six wickets. The home side’s spin trio, Arafat Sunny, Nasir Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan, claimed 3/94 as a unit.

“Bangladesh did bat better today but we had all the answers from a bowling point of view,” Du Plessis said.

The home side, who were dismissed for 96 in the first match of the series on Sunday, reached 138 on Tuesday before they were put out of their misery. But one of their problems was that SA’s batting also improved.

On Sunday, the visitors scratched and scrambled to a score of 148/4. On Tuesday, they cruised to 169/4 – not least because AB de Villiers, who lasted six balls in the first match, scored 40 in an opening stand of 95 with Quinton de Kock that endured into the second half of the innings.

And that on an intensely hot and humid day. Or, as Du Plessis put it: “If you saw AB de Villiers’ face, it looked like it was going to explode from the heat.”

Going into the three-match one-day series, which starts in Dhaka on Friday, Bangladesh will want to remember the ODI series wins they achieved over Pakistan and India in the past not quite four months more than the mauling they have been dealt by SA.

“They’ve had an incredible run against Pakistan and India, so their confidence would have been sky high,” Du Plessis said. “It was important for us as a team to put a dent in that confidence.

“We’ve set a tone for the rest of the series. Beating them 2-0 in their home conditions makes a statement.”

Would Bangladesh perform more like their namesake, the Bengal tiger, come Friday?

“We have to,” their captain, Mashrafe Mortaza, said. “The way we lost these two games, we didn’t even fight.”


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