Half centuries by Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram ensured the Proteas began their two-match T20 International (T20I) series against Ireland with a 21-run victory at the Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol on Wednesday (August 3). Opener Hendricks became only the sixth player to record four successive 50 plus scores at this level when he top-scored with 74 off 53 balls (10 fours, 1 six), with Markram also posting back-to-back half centuries on his way to 56 off 27 balls (2 fours, 5 sixes).
Their performances helped propel the Proteas to 211 for five – a record score against the Irish beating the 189 for two they posted in Belfast last year. The South Africans were then handed a scare in the chase as their opponents replied with 190 for nine in their 20 overs, the tourists eventually holding on to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match sequence.
The second game takes place at the same venue on Friday (August 5). The Proteas were full value for their latest win, though. Fresh from beating England 2-1 in the last series that concluded on Sunday, Mark Boucher’s side – without the injured David Miller – won the toss and opted to bat first.
Quinton de Kock was run out early for seven, while Rassie van der Dussen (10) also fell cheaply leaving the score on 45 for two in the sixth over. But Hendricks and Markram then came together for a 112-run third-wicket partnership. They made full use of the short boundaries – the former bagging his 11th T20I 50 and the latter his eighth – before falling to successive Gareth Delany (2/31) deliveries.
However, rising star Tristan Stubbs (24 off 11 balls) and Dwaine Pretorius (21 not out off 7 balls) made merry at the death to lift their side to a strong total.
Ireland flew out of the blocks by reaching 43 for one in the fifth over, but lost four wickets relatively quickly to slip to 84 for five in the 10th over. Stand-in skipper Keshav Maharaj (2/29) claimed two of the wickets in that period added to a double for Wayne Parnell (2/36).
But they were then handed a scare as Lorcan Tucker (78 off 38 balls, 7 fours, 5 sixes) and George Dockrell (43 off 28 balls, 2 fours, 3 sixes) put on 86 together in no time to raise hopes for the Irish. However, Tabraiz Shamsi (2/37) snapped the partnership by removing the former and with it the hopes of their opponents as the South Africans closed out a slightly nervy win.
Brief Scores: South Africa 211/5 (Reeza Hendricks 74, Aiden Markram 56, Tristan Stubbs 24; Gareth Delany 2/31) bt Ireland 190/9 (Lorcan Tucker 78, George Dockrell 43; Keshav Maharaj 2/29, Tabraiz Shamsi 2/37)