Temba Bavuma, Reeza Hendricks impress as South Africa sweep T20I series

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No Irishman surpasses Balbirnie’s 27 in steep chase

South Africa 189 for 2 (Bavuma 72, Hendricks 69) beat Ireland 140 for 9 (Balbirnie 27, Young 22, Mulder 2-10, Linde 2-21) by 49 runs

South Africa swept the T20I series 3-0 to finish their winter tour with three out of a possible four trophies. They won both the Test and T20I series in West Indies and shared the ODI rubber in Ireland. The T20I victory also gave Temba Bavuma a second successive series win as captain, and Mark Boucher a second win in seven T20I series as coach.

Batting first, for the third time in the series, South Africa successfully defended with a completely new-look attack. They rested Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi, and didn’t field Anrich Nortje in this series at all. Quinton de Kock, Janneman Malan and Rassie van der Dussen too were given a break, yet Ireland stood no chance.

Bavuma scored a maiden T20I half-century, a 51-ball 72, and shared in a 127-run opening stand with Reeza Hendricks to set up the innings for David Miller to finish. The end result was that South Africa posted the highest total of the three-match series and flayed all but one of the Irish attack. Only Simi Singh returned respectable figures of 1 for 27 in his four overs, while the rest of the home bowlers conceded at nine runs an over or more.In reply, Ireland were never really in the hunt. None of their batters made more than Andy Balbirnie’s 27, and they had no partnerships higher than 33. George Linde, Wiaan Mulder and Lizaad Williams took two wickets apiece to close out a dominant South African performance.

Bavuma and Hendricks pose questions

South Africa used their fifth opening combination across the white-ball matches they’ve played in the Caribbean and Ireland. However, instead of clarity over their best option, Bavuma and Hendricks gave them more questions. The domestic team-mates put on the highest T20I stand in the eight matches South Africa have played. Though they started slowly, they accelerated smartly.

Bavuma and Hendricks shared in South Africa’s lowest Powerplay total without losing a wicket (35). They scored just 28 runs in the next four overs to take South Africa to 63 at the halfway stage and then were almost separated when Hendricks took on Simi Singh and found Ben White at long-on. However, the debutant palmed the chance over the boundary.

The pair’s individual scores just about mirrored each other and they reached fifties in the same over – Hendricks’ off 39 balls with an inside-out drive through extra over and Bavuma off 41 balls, also with a drive. They were finally parted when Hendricks was caught behind attempting a reverse sweep off Singh.

Miller’s promotion pays off

With de Kock and Malan rested for this match, David Miller was initially down to bat at No. 4, but earned a promotion courtesy a strong start. It was the perfect time for him to play finisher, and he started with a pull off the very third ball he faced, in the 16th over. He went on to strike at 200 and scored 36 runs off 18 balls, including all 15 of the 16 runs in the most profitable over of South Africa’s innings – the penultimate one bowled by Craig Young. South Africa added 66 in the last five overs to post the highest total of the series.

We really need to talk about Kevin

It may be unfair to single him out, but Kevin O’Brien’s form has been an issue for Ireland. He has now scored seven runs in his last eight innings, and most times Ireland have found themselves on the backfoot early in the innings. It wasn’t too different on Saturday. O’Brien top-edged a sweep off left-arm spinner Linde, who opened the bowling alongside South Africa’s other spinner, Bjorn Fortuin, and was caught at square leg. Ireland were 9 for 1 after nine balls.

Mulder two in two

Mulder showed his batting worth in the second T20I when he partnered Miller to take South Africa to a match-winning score, and his bowling worth in this one, when he took two wickets in his opening over to all but end Ireland’s challenge. M

Mulder had Lorcan Tucker caught behind off an inside-edge with his first ball and Harry Tector caught at long-on off the last delivery of the over to move Ireland from 75 for 3 after 10 overs to 78 for 5 after 11.

Mulder also removed two of Ireland’s biggest hitters, who may have at least tried to meet the required run-rate of 11.5. The next two overs were boundary-less and Ireland needed 101 off the last seven overs, which was a bridge too far.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

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