TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
A funny thing happened during David Miller’s 117 not out for South Africa in the second one-day international against Sri Lanka at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
In fact, it happened several times throughout his innings: when Miller was presented with a delivery he didn’t think he could muscle to or over the boundary, he took what he could from it instead.
Miller the power-hitter was still large and in charge – he hit three fours and six sixes – but he added finesse to force by scoring 69 of his runs in ones and twos.
That meant he allowed only 29 dot balls in the 98 he faced in total.
A slowing pitch dictated the way Mille played, but that proves the point – in other, earlier innings he might have ignored the conditions and tried to hammer his way forward.
Instead, he survived and prospered in a stand of 117 with Faf du Plessis, who scored 105.
Their performances were key to South Africa’s 121-run win, which put the home side in pole position to clinch the series at the Wanderers on Saturday.
“It was difficult to start with and I really tried to emphasise on my start and tried to not panic too early,” Miller said.
“I knew that if we built a decent enough partnership things would flow naturally.
“There was a lot more emphasis on my start and I’ve been working hard on that for the last six months.”
When Miller was dropped before South Africa’s ODI series against England in February, he had scored two centuries in his 73 innings.
In his six trips to the crease since returning to the fold in September he has made two hundreds – both in his last three innings and both at Kingsmead.
“I’ve learnt a lot in my career so far and I believe everything’s a journey,” Miller said.
“I’m going in the right direction.
“I’ve scored four centuries for South Africa and I believe I can keep going.
“It’s all about putting in the hard work and then believing it as well.
“That belief factor is coming into my game a lot more.”
What else about his game had changed?
“It’s a few technical things, playing the ball a little bit later makes a huge difference,” he said.
“Early in my career I was really pushing at the ball.
“I do still at times, but it’s coming into my game more to get myself in and trust that, if I’m going at that 60 or 70 strike rate, it’s OK and believing I can catch up at the end.
“There’re a few factors involved but it’s also experience – trying to put everything together.”
But, sometimes, Miller still needs to listen to his inner monster.
Like he did during the 36th over on Wednesday, when he smashed off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva for consecutive sixes.
“It was unexpected, because Faf and I spoke the ball before and said let’s just keep knocking them around and trying to build the partnership – play low-risk cricket,” Miller said.
“And I just smacked two sixes over his head and he said, ‘What was the whole chat about?’
“I said it was quite full and I needed to go.”
And, what do you know, he’s finally arrived.
• Miller will miss the rest of the series with a finger injury.