Odran Flynn (CricketEurope)
Ireland lost to South Africa by 33 runs this afternoon in the first of three T20I’s on another warm summer’s day in Malahide.
That headline figure disguises the reality of the scale of the defeat as an unbeaten last wicket stand of 44 by Barry McCarthy and Josh Little - an Ireland T20I and also a Full Member T20I record - that saved Ireland from the ignominy of one of their lowest scores in this format.
Both batsmen comfortably achieved their highest T20I score with McCarthy (30*) more than doubling his career aggregate in this his 11th innings while Little increasing his best score from 7 to 15*.
Other than these two batsmen only Harry Tector, who top scored with 36 and Andrew Balbirnie with 22, reached double figures as the Ireland top order capitulated to a combination of pace and spin.
George Linde began the rout when having been slog swept by Paul Stirling for six from the first ball of the run chase, clattered his stumps with the next delivery. He later repeated that feat when he dismissed Lorcan Tucker.
Kagiso Rabada heaped more misery on Kevin O’Brien’s international year when he held a simple return catch to dismiss the Railway Union man for a first legitimate ball duck. By the time the score had reached 34, Lungi Ngidi has taken out Balbirnie and George Dockrell with almost identical dismissals, both backing away to leg as they attempted to cut the ball and both edging through to Quinton de Kock.
However, it was the World’s leading T20I bowler, Tabraiz Shamsi who ripped the heart out of the remainder of the innings with his left arm wrist spin, finishing with 4-27 from his four overs.
The batsmen could not read the direction of the spin with two of his victims being bowled while Tector was stumped as he charged down the wicket. Other than that aforementioned last wicket stand there was no further resistance as the result was never in doubt from the end of the twelfth over.
Earlier South Africa, who were put into bat, had got off to a blistering start and after 15 balls they had reached 31 when Quinton de Kock, who had already struck 3 fours and a towering six, mishit an attempted straight drive off Mark Adair and chipped the ball to Paul Stirling at mid-off.
Adair doubled up on his success by having Friday’s hero Janneman Malan caught by Simi Singh, albeit after two juggles. Adrian Markram top scored in the match with 39 as the South African batsmen built partnerships but got out before they developed into anything significant.
Singh and Little were again the standout performers with the ball as the off spinner’s four overs yielded two wickets while only conceding 19 runs. His standout dismissal was when he deceived Markram with a leg break and left Tucker with the simplest task of removing the bails.
Little, as he now regularly does, took the fight to the batsmen and finished with 2-27 to complement his subsequent batting performance. Adair had also been a key factor in restricting the opposition to what had seemed a very gettable target but spoiled his figures when conceding 17 runs to Rabada from the final over of the innings including four successive fours.
Unfortunately, from an Ireland perspective the support bowling of Stirling, McCarthy and Dockrell also conceded runs at more than 9 per over and too often relieved the pressure.
It was also something of a surprise that Shane Getkate did not get a bowl as he has had success before in the middle overs.
The purpose of these games is to determine the best side for the World Cup in October, and we can expect changes for the second game on Thursday in Stormont.
South Africa beat Ireland by 33 runs.
South Africa 165-7 in 20 overs (A. Markram 39, M. Adair 3-39, S. Singh 2-19)
Ireland 132-9 in 20 overs (H. Tector 36, B. McCarthy 30*, T. Shamsi 4-27, L. Ngidi 2-18)