When a team requires seven runs off the last over -- with a handful of wickets -- in a T20 game, you would have to be an insane optimist to think that there was still a way to get home. And the odds of that coming true would have taken a further beating if that was South Africa, considering their well-known statistics of giving it away towards the end.
However, Dale Steyn's performance yesterday, which saw him unleash an almost unplayable over to lead the Proteas to a two-run win over New Zealand at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, in a way added another dimension to not only T20 Internationals but also South African cricket.
The aggression with which he bowled the last over almost seemed to be saying, "Chokers you say? Well have a piece of this then!" The result: two wickets and a win for South Africa which kept them alive in the tournament.
Half-centuries from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor at the top put the Kiwis in a good position to overcome their target of 170, which the South Africans scored courtesy of a brilliant 86 from JP Duminy. Williamson brought out his textbook drives -- generally unheard of in this format -- and drove his way to 51 off 35 balls. Taylor depended more on his sweeps and hammered three sixes in his 37-ball 62. Despite a flurry of wickets in the middle, with Taylor on strike and the Kiwis requiring 21 off the last two overs, New Zealand seemed like going home.
Taylor smacked two fours in the second-last over and brought the equation down to a comfortable seven off six; the only drawback was that he was not on strike and Steyn utilised that well.
He got Luke Ronchi caught behind in the first ball and then played around with Nathan McCullum until the latter hit one over mid-off for a boundary. McCullum however, was caught at mid-off in the next ball and put the Proteas on the back foot again.
With three runs required off the last ball, all Taylor could do was hit a full-paced delivery back to Steyn who collected the ball, ran him out and let out a roar.
Earlier, Duminy displayed why he is one of the most sought-after players in this format of the game as he muscled a thunderous 86 off just 43 balls to bail his side out from a nervy start.
The Proteas suffered a mini-collapse after being put into bat in the afternoon as they lost three wickets in the first seven overs with just 43 runs on the board.
In dire straits, the Proteas needed a hero and that's when Duminy stepped up. He made his first strike in the twelfth over, when he hammered Mitchell McClenaghan for a six over midwicket.
It was only when Duminy lost his partner, Hashim Amla, through a freak dismissal in the same over -- Amla's slap down the ground deflected off Duminy's bat into the bowler's hand, who accepted the caught and bowled opportunity -- that he decided to throttle it up to full gear.
In the last two overs, Duminy clubbed Kyle Mills and Tim Southee for two fours and a six to help South Africa successfully complete a plunder in the last five overs -- where they hammered 70 runs.