Bangladesh v South Africa, 2nd T20, Mirpur July 7, 2015

Leie showcases his 'flair' on debut

Eddie Leie: "I enjoy bowling in T20s because you can have a bit of flair, you can mix it up as much as you want" © AFP

Eddie Leie's international debut was better than any of his countrymen's - his figures of 3 for 16 are the best by a South African on debut - but it was not good enough for promotion to the one-day squad. Not officially, anyway. 

Leie will remain with the squad for the three-match ODI series to "get exposed to the environment" and "spend time with the coaches," Russell Domingo, South Africa's coach explained. And to watch the experts at work. 

Imran Tahir, South Africa's first-choice limited-overs spinner and their leading wicket-taker in ODIs in 2015, returns to the set-up after being rested from the T20s. Aaron Phangiso, the left-arm spinner who was part of the 2015 World Cup squad, is also in the squad. Both are likely to be considered ahead of Leie for the World T20 next year, but for Leie, that's not a major concern at this stage of his career. 

"There is no competition between me and Immi. Immi is a great bowler and he has done well consistently well for the country and in the IPL. I try to learn as much as I can from him," Leie said after his Man-of-the-Match performance. "I think we are a team." 

It's not too difficult to see how Leie gets there. Tahir, Phangiso and Leie have always been part of his team, domestically. The trio was at the Lions franchise, although, as is the nature of South African teams, they did not always play as part of the same XI. Tahir has since moved to Dolphins which has bumped Leie up the queue as far as Lions' regulars go. Eventually the same may happen at international level, but until it does, Leie is happy to be Tahir's understudy. 

"We are the Proteas as a collective so if one spinner gets rested, it's important for other players to fulfill the role. It's not about competition, it's about the role that needs to be filled," Leie said. 

In keeping with that, Leie tried to fill Tahir's shoes as much he could on his debut. Like Tahir, Leie plays a dual role with an equal focus on attack and defense. On Tuesday he was brought on with South Africa needing a bit of both. 

Bangladesh's good start had been stemmed with the loss of Tamim Iqbal but they had still scored quickly and their aggressor-in-chief Soumya Sarkar was still at the crease in the seventh over. Given that, Leie could have been conservative in his approach but chose to invite the batsmen forward with flight, and with his fifth ball, Sarkar accepted. He left his crease to try and cream Leie through the covers but missed and gifted Quinton de Kock a stumping. As quickly as that, Leie demonstrated a Tahir-like confidence in his own ability and maturity in his execution. And he was enjoying himself too, although not quite as much as Tahir does.

"I enjoy bowling in T20s because you can have a bit of flair, you can mix it up as much as you want," Leie said. "There's a lot of fielders that are outside so you can try a few things." 

In his next over, Leie found significant turn - enough to confound Bangladesh's two best batsmen, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim - and in his final over, he found himself on a hat-trick. Faf du Plessis, South Africa's T20 captain, admitted Leie should have bowled his full quota but felt he needed a quick man to finish things off instead.

"He bowled really well and he deserved four overs today," du Plessis said. He bowled fantastically but that's just the way the game worked out, I thought we needed a seamer at the end there."

Kyle Abbott was handed the ball in the final over and it turned out to be a right decision. He took two wickets to jump to joint first place on the wicket-takers' list in the series, with Phangiso. But Leie is behind them with his three and that's likely where he will be for the foreseeable future: right at the heels of Phangiso and Tahir, challenging for his place.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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