Cape Town - Proteas opening batsman, Jon-Jon Smuts, has credited AB de Villiers’ spurring leadership for the resilient performance in the three-run win against England in the second T20 International in Taunton on Friday.
The win sets the series up for an exciting finish, with a winner-takes-all finale in Cardiff later dtoday.
The spirited show from the bowlers brought the Proteas back from possible defeat, with Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo leading the charge with an impressive show of temperament and skill. The win has given the squad the belief of a ‘come from behind’ series win, which will be a welcome confidence boost ahead of the Test series starting next month.
“AB was unbelievable,” he said. “He made us believe that we could win that game from anywhere, and we did. If you looked at where they (England) were after 11 overs, they needed 70 to win with nine wickets in hand, most teams wouldn’t lose many games from there. That showed how well our seamers and Shamsi bowled, we were in it until the end, it was a great team performance.
“For South African cricket and the Proteas it’s massive,” he said of the final match. “I supposed you could say that I was fortunate not to have been part of the Champions Trophy and I haven’t been involved in the disappointments, even though I feel it as a South African.
“It’s another big game, the series is on the line, this is what we want to play for,” Smuts added. “We want to win series and to beat England here would be a great comeback for us. We have to treat it like any other game, it is batter versus bowler, one ball at a time.”
Smuts recovered from a first-ball duck in the opening match to set up the platform upfront with 45 off 35 balls, an innings that gave a glimpse of his potential at international level after dominating on the domestic scene last season.
“It was quite enjoyable after Wednesday’s game,” he said. “Wednesday was tough to go through, so it was nice to get the team off to a good start and to play a small part in the team’s victory.
“I’ve done well domestically, that has held me in great stead to be here but you want to put in performances for your country. This was my fifth game and I hadn’t really put in a performance yet so it was enjoyable to get a performance in. It wasn’t a great performance, it was a good performance, I needed to kick on to 80 or so but hopefully it’s a good start for me and I can carry on from here.”
The match is scheduled to start at 14h30 local time.