Bristol, Aug 4 (IANS) A blistering 38-ball 78 from Lorcan Tucker wasn't enough for Ireland as South Africa survived a scare to secure a 21-run win in the first T20I at Bristol to go 1-0 up in the two-match series.
Fifties from Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram took South Africa to 211-5 in their 20 overs. In the pursuit of the massive chase, Ireland slipped to 84-5 before Tucker and George Dockrell (43 off 28 balls) kept Ireland in the hunt until wickets tumbled at the end of the chase, ending at 190-0 in their 20 overs.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first, putting on 23 in the first three overs before Quinton de Kock departed for seven on the first ball of the fourth over. Attempting a quick single, the left-hander was caught short after Harry Tector was quick to move at mid-off and hit the stumps at the non-striker's end.
Rassie van der Dussen departed for ten a couple of overs later, his attempted flick resulting in a catch at third man off the bowling of Andrew McBrine. From there, Hendricks and Markram put on a stand of 112 runs for the third wicket. Hendricks dominated in the early stages of the partnership, continuing his excellent recent form to reach his fourth consecutive T20I half-century off just 32 deliveries.
While Markram was patient to begin with - he hit 11 off his first 13 deliveries - the boundaries soon began to flow. His half-century was achieved off just 25 deliveries, with the right-hander taking 20 runs off four consecutive Josh Little deliveries at one stage.
Hendricks and Markram's partnership finally came to a close in the 16th over when the latter chipped Gareth Delany to deep midwicket. After Markram was dismissed for 56 off 27 balls, laced with two fours and five sixes, Hendricks fell on the very next delivery, finding Paul Stirling at point to depart for 74, hitting ten fours and a six in his 53-ball knock.
South Africa bounced back quickly from those two blows, with Tristan Stubbs (24 off 11) and Dwaine Pretorius (21 not out off seven balls) lifting the Proteas to 211. In response, left-arm pacer Wayne Parnell dismissed the Irish opening pair of Stirling (18) and Andrew Balbirnie (14).
It took Tucker to truly ignite the innings as he raced to 24 off just eight balls, effectively using his feet to come down the pitch and aerially attack Parnell down the ground. Tector, Delany and Curtis Campher all departed cheaply but Tucker kept on motoring, and he found the perfect partner in Dockrell to resuscitate the Ireland innings.
Together the pair put on fifty in just 25 balls, and when Tucker smashed six and then four off Shamsi in the 17th over, Ireland were well and truly in the game. But Tucker failed to properly connect with his shot against the wrist-spinner, gifting a simple catch to de Kock behind the stumps, and Dockrell perished not long after off Pretorius.
From there South Africa took full control, with Mark Adair and McBrine departing before victory was finally secured, leaving Ireland 21 runs short in yet another case of so close yet so far.
Brief Scores: South Africa 211-5 in 20 overs (Reeza Hendricks 74, Aiden Markram 56; Gareth Delany 2-31) beat Ireland 190-9 in 20 overs (Lorcan Tucker 78, George Dockrell 43; Keshav Maharaj 2-29, Wayne Parnell 2-36) by 21 runs
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