Great fast bowling by the greatest fast bowler of the age kept South Africa in the World Twenty20 on Monday. Until Dale Steyn’s thrilling and dramatic intervention at the climax of the group match against New Zealand here in Chittagong, it looked as though his side were heading for their second successive defeat and almost certain elimination.
The Kiwis, on 164 for 5, needed seven runs off the final over, a relative doddle in T20. Steyn, however, bowled with decisive speed and accuracy, frequently above 90mph, and delivered five dot balls off which three wickets fell.
Nathan McCullum's desperate lunge to the fourth ball went for four but he was caught off the fifth. Steyn bowled the last at a full length outside off to Ross Taylor, who had scored a whirling 62 from 36 balls but could only push it back and was run out attempting a forlorn single.
South Africa, who had lost their opening group match to Sri Lanka, won by two runs in a game which looked to be going away from them. J P Duminy was their top scorer and man of the match for his bracing unbeaten 86 from 43 balls.
Hashim Amla was out in bizarre fashion when he cracked a ball hard straight back down the pitch, which hit the shoulder of Duminy's bat, looped up and allowed the bowler Corey Anderson to take the catch.
It seemed that New Zealand had plotted their pursuit well, with Kane Williamson galloping at the front and Taylor then taking over towards the back. But Steyn's final three overs were delayed and he bowled the 14th, 18th and 20th, taking crucial wickets in each. New Zealand could score from only seven of the 18 balls.
In the other Group One match, Sri Lanka swept aside the Netherlands by nine wickets, dismissing them for a tournament low of 39 and knocking off the target in five overs.