Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

New Zealand v South Africa, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong

Smoking Steyn-gun

A T20 classic that made a 500km round trip completely worth the effort

Fahmim Ferdous

Comments: 5 | Text size: A | A
Dale Steyn effects the winning run-out, New Zealand v South Africa, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong, March 24, 2014
That's the epitome of an electric finish © Getty Images
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Choice of game
Traveling to another city to watch a cricket match had always been on my bucket list, and with tickets for Dhaka matches rare to get a hold of, this was the perfect match. South Africa and New Zealand feature some of my favourite T20 cricketers, and getting a day off from work on a weekday was easier for me than during the weekend.

Team supported
I love the brand of cricket both teams play, so any team's win would have made me happy. But as the game closed in, I realised I wanted South Africa to win more badly.

Key performer
JP Duminy played a superbly balanced knock to push South Africa to a fighting total, Kane Williamson was impressive at the top of New Zealand's innings, while Ross Taylor showed glimpses of Pallekelle and threatened to run away with it, but it was the Steyngun who snatched it away. Not just for his closing over; every time he came to bowl, he asserted his authority on a surface deemed slow. While pacers resort to all sorts of fancy slower bouncers and cutters, he went old-school - fast, good length, on the corridor of uncertainty. He was the difference between the sides.

One thing you'd have changed about the match
The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium is beautiful in its own way, but almost none of the galleries have any shade above the head. With the sun beating down and air humid, the first three hours were difficult. Three of my most favourite T20 batsmen - AB de Villiers, Faf Du Plessis and Brendon McCullum didn't get any runs, which was a little disappointing.

Face-off you relished
Taylor took on Morne Morkel when he returned after a break from his poor two-over spell, and tonked him around for three back-to-back sixes. Steyn cutting through the New Zealand openers was also intense.

Wow moment
Steyn's third over produced the valuable wicket of a free-striking Williamson, as de Villiers, who hadn't had an impact on the game with the bat, sprinted to his right from wide long-on near where I was sitting, for a moment lost the ball in the floodlights, and then flung himself in the air horizontally to get his fingers under the ball at bootlace-height. Spectacular.

Whoa moment
Hashim Amla, who had been cautious after wickets fell at the other end, slapped one hard back towards the bowler, which hit non-striker Duminy's bat really hard and looped up in the air as JP's bat slipped from his hand, and bowler Corey Anderson had the presence of mind to swallow up the catch. Arguably the most bizarre dismissal I've seen on a cricket field.

Close encounter
Steyn got loud cheers when he fielded at long-on just in front of us, particularly after a valiant effort to catch a Taylor skier that ended up going for six. Shouts of "Khai de, Steyn, Khai de" (roughly translating to "Eat 'em up, Steyn, eat 'em up") were also hollered at him when he went to bowl the final over.

Shot of the day
Duminy played the most impressive knock of the day, looting runs all around the park. It was his first six, though, crashing a Mitchell McClenaghan length ball from outside off to the cow corner for a 92-metre hit, that stood out.

Comic relief
In the last over of the South African innings, with Duminy getting just the three deliveries to face, he was looking to crash each one of them. One such shot whizzed over umpire Aleem Dar, who took a full backward somersault over his head. The crowd found it funny, particularly after realising no one was injured.

Entertainment
The DJ and the emcee kept the energy going with a variety of songs, and got the spectators involved in chants and applause. There were some fireworks at the beginning and end of both innings. Watching the SpiderCam - flying over like a wired spy drone - was also entertaining. A mid-innings barrel-roll run was also held with sponsor representatives.

ODI v Twenty20
While ODIs are more fulfilling and a better cricketing experience for a spectator, T20s provide more thrill, and are more convenient in terms of time-consumption. To me, their appeals are very different and tough to compare.

Overall
It was a high-quality game. Both the teams fielded superbly, which was a welcome change from recent trends. Barring Morkel, the bowling was also very competitive, and the strokeplay from both teams was everything a spectator could have asked for. Add in the tense last-ball finish and the hairline margin of victory - overall, a very satisfying experience. The 500-km round trip to watch two games (the second one between Netherlands and Sri Lanka proved to be a massively disappointing mismatch) was well worth it just for this contest.

Marks out of 10
9.5

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Fahmim Ferdous is a journalist with an engineering degree who still bowls a mean chinaman, years after his budding cricket career was cut short by injury and academic pressure. One of his lifelong dreams is to be a cricket commentator.

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Comments: 5 
Posted by   on (March 27, 2014, 8:26 GMT)

Will definitely want to see if he can perform in pressure situations where SA are defending a score like 130 odd against a team like India/Aus. I doubt he would.

Posted by wahabkhattak on (March 26, 2014, 11:59 GMT)

Steyn-Gun has always been a fantasy to watch, but the turn over that occured few days back against N Zealand was impossible without Steyn. I believe he is the guy who can sustain pressure in better way than his other team mates. Because in crunch situation in the knock outs, S Africa has always struggled. we hope this time it should not happen as the guys in green are ready for pressure cooker situations this time.

Posted by   on (March 26, 2014, 10:26 GMT)

Yeah it must have been a joy to watch that Steyn Spell-from-hell.

and those crazy eyes.. what a sight..

Posted by BrainsRam on (March 25, 2014, 13:12 GMT)

For once (and hopefully more frequently now), we have the Choking South Africans become Smoking Again South Africans

It was a thrilling match and I was following at my office at www.espncricinfo.com

Way to go Saffas. You have always been one of my most favourite teams (except when playing against my home country India)

Posted by   on (March 25, 2014, 6:36 GMT)

'..........both of them having lost their respective campaign-openers,' loved the fan report, just a factual error, New Zealand actually won the match against England by D/L.

*Thanks for pointing this out. The report has been edited. Apologies for the error - ESPNcricinfo"

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