Cape Town - Andile Phehlukwayo achieved career bests with both bat and ball and teamed up with rookie Rassie van der Dussen to earn the Proteas a famous series-levelling victory by five wickets with 48 balls to spare over Pakistan in the second ODI at Kingsmead on Tuesday.
The margin suggests a comfortable victory, but it was anything but the case as Pakistan bossed the middle part of the game through outstanding performances by Hasan Ali with the bat and Shaheen Afridi with the ball.
Hasan led an inspired Pakistan fightback from a disastrous 114/8 with only 18 overs left in the innings as he shared a Pakistan ninth-wicket record partnership of 90 off 80 balls with his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, the latter playing in his 100th ODI.
Hasan finished on 59 (45 balls, 3 sixes and 5 fours) while Sarfraz scored a supporting 41 (59 balls, 2 fours).
Their final total of 203 was certainly competitive and it looked a lot more than that when Shaheen blew a hole in the Proteas top order, taking three wickets in his first three overs. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan then backed him up by dismissing David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen cheaply and at 80/5 the Proteas looked a long way away from their target.
But man of the match Phehlukwayo (69 not out off 80 balls, 7 fours and 2 sixes) and Van der Dussen (80 not out off 123 balls, 9 fours) produced the sort of grit the Proteas will need when they travel to the ICC Men’s World Cup in May. Their unbroken partnership of 127 was a Kingsmead ground record and included the former’s maiden ODI half-century.
He also had career best bowling figures of 4/22 and for good measure took two catches off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada in the opening power play for a thoroughbred all-round performance.
Phehlukwayo, like Rabada, seems to have been around for a long time but he is even younger than Rabada at 22. He has certainly put up his marker as a contender for the critical No. 7 batting all-rounder position in the Proteas first choice line-up.
He rode his luck at times but there was no denying the quality of his stroke play and its timing with none being better than the cover drive to raise the century partnership.
Van der Dussen has now made an aggregate of 173 runs which is the highest by any Protea in his first two innings in this format. What has impressed even more has been the temperament he brings to the job and the fact that he is a quick learner. After struggling against the Pakistan spinners on debut on Saturday he was their master this time.
The third ODI takes place at SuperSport Park on Friday at 13:00.