South Africa in New Zealand 2011-12 February 20, 2012

Levi's attack in second T20 was relentless - Botha


The secret behind Richard Levi's scintillating century, according to Johan Botha, was his ability to keep finding the other side of the boundary even when the Powerplay was over. Levi, with his 117 not out off 51 balls, became South Africa's only centurion in international Twenty20 cricket, the scorer of the fastest hundred in the format and the joint-highest individual score, equalling a record set by Chris Gayle.

Botha said some of the South Africa camp were not all that surprised by Levi's effort. "He has played with a few of the Cobras guys in our team and they kept saying that he plays that way," Botha said. "But, I thought, surely he can't keep it hitting it like that."

But, Levi could. He peppered the leg-side with sixes irrespective of who was bowling and which wickets fell around him. Hashim Amla holed out and Wayne Parnell was stumped during the early stages of Levi's innings but their departure did not seem to have any effect on his power-hitting. Neither did the lifting of the fielding restrictions, which impressed Botha.

"The good thing is - and I think that's the way the game is going - to keep hitting boundaries after six overs and he did that to keep the bowlers under pressure," Botha said. "A lot of guys are good in the first six overs when its field restrictions and then from overs seven to 11, they take the foot off the gas a little bit. That's where he was outstanding."

Botha said New Zealand had no way of stopping Levi because sometimes, especially in the shortest format of the game, when momentum is with a player, it cannot be taken away. "When a guy is playing that way, you've got to hope he misses one at some stage and if he doesn't, that's the way it goes," Botha said. "It was just one of those nights where one player can do these things. We've seen it with Gayle and we've seen it with Brendon McCullum, where you just can't stop a guy."

Levi also rose above a verbal shower from Tim Southee who though the short ball would rattle the South Africa opener. Southee hit Levi on the helmet in the first match and accounted for his dismissal but the same ploy did not work in Wellington. Levi was prepared for Southee this time around, and had a few things to say back to the New Zealand bowler, most of them with the bat.

"Richard had a few guys quiet last night," Botha said, admitting that South Africa had braced themselves for mind-games and wordy confrontations. "We expected the players to come out hard and really be in our faces, and that's fair enough. I think the guys know it might happen and they've just got to deal with it and focus on the game. Gary [Kirsten] spoke to us about it and said 'You've just got to get on with it, you can't let it affect you'. We expect more of the same in the next few games."

New Zealand have often triumphed over South Africa in mind games with their most recent victory coming at the World Cup quarterfinal in Dhaka in March last year. That win knocked an impressive-looking South Africa out of the tournament and although they claim to have recovered from the shock, they would still not pass up a chance to beat their old foes in response.

The third Twenty20 in Auckland may present a situation that has some similarity to a knockout match. With the series currently at 1-1, it is effectively a final and will give both sides the opportunity to show their ability to perform under pressure. "It's good to play in tight games," Botha said. "It's nice to be at one-all and I'm sure there'll be a lot of expectation. The big games like this really matter."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Keith on February 21, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    Cannot wait for this pyjama circus to be over and for the real cricket to begin! Regardless of who wins the t20's let us hope that a tight game is in prospect for the decider. The odi's, again, who really cares? With regards to the tests, Black Caps, on paper, do not have a chance in hell. Fortunately the game is not played on paper though! Should be a tight affair with Saffers either 1/0 or 2/0 winners of the series. Too much in the Saffers armoury! The Kiwi's will hopefully make a fist of it though (as per the norm)!! Nothing worse than an easy series!! Oh yeah, the Super 15 starting this weekend!! Bring it on!!

  • Hazel on February 21, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    I think there is space for Levi in ODIs and T20s. My ideal team would be Levi,Smith,Kallis,Amla,AB,JP,Albie,Petersen/Botha,Steyn,Morkel,Lonwabo

  • Dummy4 on February 21, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    this called Performance.... :)

  • dj on February 21, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    Just been disappointing how long Graeme Smith was fiddling around in the limited overs games , when we had guys like this in the wings.Waiting for whenever we decide to get a good replacement for Boucher.

    Oh well ...

  • Johan on February 21, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    Nice article as always, Firdosa.... Being in that batting bubble is what it is all about, you don't even hear the sledging.... Two guys have mastered that in a Protea shirt, Kallis & Amla... Lets see if Levi can do the same... As for NZ cricket, hats off to their successes over the years, as a collective, they play out of their socks! Let's get this T20 bull out of the way and play some serious cricket! Those of you on either side that expects this to be a onesided tour... Don't think so! Let's see if Gary has turned the corner with the mental stability of this Protea team.... GO the Saffers!

  • Dummy4 on February 21, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    levi is the remarkable player for the SA squads and he is new generation Hansie Cronje so please use him well, I wishing SA playing well for future games.

  • Sabyasachi on February 21, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    africa need good no 5 and 6... they are too much rely on top 3-4. @SA fan from bangladesh.

  • Jeremy on February 21, 2012, 0:56 GMT

    As a kiwi I realise that SA are the favourites for the test series. But Im just going to go ahead and put it out there anyway - I think it could be a drawn series or even a NZ win 2-1. This NZ test team is the beginning of a revival for NZ in the longer form of the game (we have been average-above average in the shorter forms over the past 10years). John Wright is a coach that is bringing the best out of current players but also bringing through excellent selections in the form of Brownlie, Bracewell and Trent Boult. We have an excellent test bowling line up in NZ conditions - it destroyed Australia in similar conditions in Hobart and defeated Zim in one day. We can be more than competitive.

  • Harry on February 20, 2012, 23:58 GMT

    Too funny, Spelele. You have a go at the Kiwi fans for saying the EXACT same thing you are, but of course, coming from you, it's alright. The Kiwis are on the rise, so don't go discounting them too early, they wil have a few surprises left in them yet.

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    sa has always unearthed many talented cricketers but the point was most of them after a lot of initial promise went in to the shades like roelof van der merwe,loots bossman etc when i saw bossman for the first tym playing 2 t20's he luked very dangerous after tht he completely went in to shades .same for van der merwe come on sa van der merwe is wayy wayy wayy better batsman,fielder and bowler thn useless robin pieternsen and i wonder how did robin even managed to enter sa team when they have very dangerous spinners lyk botha and merwe .hope develliers and kirsten show promise on the youngsters and give them enough chances rather thn wasting it on useless guys like ashwell prince,alviro pietersen and colin ingram !!

    sa is the best in producing fast bowlers !! steyn,philander,morkel,tsotsobe,parnell and merchant de lange can rattle any team even in asian conditions !! which teams lyk aus and eng cant do and sa batsmen play spin wayy better thn non subcontinent teams

    sa roxx

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