Reza Hendricks hit his fourth T20 fifty in a row as South Africa beat Ireland by 21 runs in their series opener in Bristol on Wednesday.
Hendricks, who scored three half-centuries in the Proteas’ recent 2-1 series win over England, scored 74 runs in a total of 211-5 and shared a third-wicket partnership of 112 with Aiden Markram (56).
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During the presentation ceremony, Hendricks said, “I think I’m working really hard,” now one of only five batsmen to score four consecutive half-centuries at this level. “Momentum is important. I am enjoying the English conditions.
Lorcan Tucker (78) and George Dockrell (43) kept Ireland in the hunt but their team’s hopes of victory went with them when the pair were dismissed on consecutive balls.
‘Death bowling’ specialist Wayne Parnell proved his mettle by hitting tailender Barry McCarthy for a six off the last ball of the innings as Ireland finished on 190-9.
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Left-arm pacer Parnell returned figures of 2-36, stand-in Proteas captain Keshav Maharaj took 2-29 with his left-arm spin and leg-spinner Tabriz Shamsi took 2-37.
For Ireland, it was another case of close but not quite as they suffered their seventh consecutive T20 defeat after being competitive against India, New Zealand and now South Africa this season.
“We were in the game for a long time,” Ireland captain Andy Balburnie said. “Two wickets in two balls made the difference.”
Hendricks’ latest fifty came in 32 balls, including seven fours and a six, while Markram scored the century in 25 balls, including six fours.
The pair fell on successive deliveries, with leg-spinner Gareth Delaney having Markram caught at deep square leg before Hendricks was pointed out.
However, Ireland did not help their cause by bowling more than 13 wides – two extra overs.
The South African attack largely kept Ireland in check but a sixth-wicket stand of 86 between Tucker and Dockrell gave the Proteas something to think about.
Tucker faced just 38 balls which included seven fours and five sixes. But he fell on the last ball of the 17th over when Shamsi was skied by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Ireland needed 42 from the last three overs and Dockrell was well caught by Markram on the very next ball, diving ahead of long-off, as he dismissed Dwayne Pretorius.
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South Africa suffered a blow before the start of the match, with captain David Miller ruled out with back pain, with fellow batsman Henrik Klaasen replacing him in the playing XI.
Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was ruled out of both matches of the two-match series in Bristol on Friday with an ankle injury.
“David Miller will hopefully be ready for the next one,” Maharaj said.
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