The Proteas may have made an awful mess of their new-ball burst against Bangladesh, but Andile Phehlukwayo answered the call to stop the rot, getting the first wicket with his second ball and delivering a tight spell of four overs for 14 runs, that included a maiden.
Phehlukwayo then returned in the middle overs and bowled three tight overs for 13 runs, before having two spells at the death – he claimed the key wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim for 78 with his first ball back, conceding 14 runs in two overs, but then went for 11 runs bowling the 48th over, including a couple of wides.
But he still ended with highly creditable figures of two for 52 in 10 overs, South Africa’s best on a miserable day with the ball.
Coupled with his analysis of one for 44 in eight against England, the medium-pacer has been the Proteas’ most consistent seamer, against the expectations of the management, who have been talking up the fast bowlers for a long time.
“Our speedsters are world-class, we have unbelievable fast bowlers and I think the first bowler opposition batsmen think of coming after is me and I use that to my advantage. I see it as a positive, an opportunity to get wickets because the batsmen are going to try and be extra positive against me and try and create something out of nothing. I just try and close the game out using my strengths – changes of pace, presenting the seam and bowling one or two bouncers.
“When you’re not extreme pace, when you’re not as tall as the other guys and you don’t get that bounce, then you need to find your confidence-ball. I have different talents – bowling at 130 compared to the guys at 145 you need to be really good at changes of pace, to keep the batsman guessing and on his toes. I bring something different in the team and that’s important,” Phehlukwayo said.
While the 23-year-old from the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast can feel content with his own individual performances, the Proteas as a whole have not had much reason for making whoopee after starting their World Cup campaign with back-to-back defeats in London.
Phehlukwayo was trying to stay positive as the team leave for Southampton and a daunting meeting with India on Wednesday.
“I’ve had some bad days in my career and you have to understand that it’s not the end of the world, we can bounce back, we’ve done it before and we can do it again. We’ve had two bad games, but if we can be smart and clinical then we can win our next one. We’re not far away, we’ve been preparing well. We just need to win those small battles, break those partnerships a little earlier. We just need some momentum.
“Against Bangladesh it was just one of those days, there were patches when we had the game under control and we put them under pressure. Unfortunately they managed to get wickets at important times to put us back under pressure. We didn’t put enough pressure on their bowling and we saw what they did to us at the death. We felt 331 was definitely chaseable but we messed up. We just needed to stay more composed and get a bigger partnership going,” Phehlukwayo said.