Tahir spares South Africa embarrassment
South Africa 145 for 9 (Amla 43, Malik 5-19) beat Netherlands 139 (Myburgh 51, Tahir 4-21) by 6 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
They did it at Lord's in the opening match of the World T20 five years ago. Then, Netherlands stunned England to announce the Associate threat in the shortest format. They did not look anywhere close to do doing it three days ago, when they were skittled out for the lowest total in T20 internationals, and Sri Lanka highlighted the gulf between cricket's haves and have-nots in the most brutal way. But Netherlands almost did it again today.
Netherlands were on course to cull another giant after they restricted South Africa to under 150 and got the asking rate down to less than five runs an over in the chase, but then imploded at the end. They did almost everything right: they took an early wicket, put the squeeze on South Africa with a selection of slower balls and got their own chase off to a flying start. South Africa had not lost to an Associate in their history and Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir held their nerve to ensure that did not change.
The Dutch crumbled from 80 for 1 to 139 all out - losing 9 for 59 - and handed South Africa the two points they needed to stay in contention for the semi-finals. With two defeats, Netherlands only have a slim chance of advancing but are taking their own victories from this tournament. In this match, the biggest one was Ahsan Malik's performance. The Rotterdam-born seamer recorded the best figures by an Associate bowler against a Full Member - 5 for 19.
Malik did not make the first incision - that honour went to Michael Swart, who had Quinton de Kock caught at square in the first over - but he made a telling one. After Hashim Amla had made a statement to those who questioned his ability to accelerate and took 22 off Swart's second over, Malik offered him some width and Amla was caught behind. The nick was faint, so much so that Amla, a walker, did not move at first, but it was there and it dented South Africa's positive start.
Amla had almost single-handedly taken South Africa to 43 in the fifth over, a sign that net run-rate was on their minds. Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers were in less of a hurry but were gifted low full-tosses by Logan van Beek and Pieter Seelaar to keep them going. They posted 39 for the third wicket before du Plessis tried to flick Tom Cooper over deep midwicket but found the fielder.
That was the first of South Africa's careless dismissals, which suggested they were taking their opposition too lightly. De Villiers picked out deep cover; Albie Morkel, who was promoted to No.5 to give him more time in the middle gave deep mid-wicket a catch; and JP Duminy was caught down the leg side. Those four batsmen fell in the space of 45 deliveries in which South Africa did not manage a single boundary.
Van Beek, Malik, Mudassar Bukhari and Timm van der Gugetn took pace off the ball and the Dutch ground fielding gave South Africa as little as they could. Before South Africa knew it, Dale Steyn was batting and their innings was in danger of not lasting the full 20 overs.
David Miller barely had any opportunity to show off his finishing skills and was bowled as he played around a full delivery from Malik. Despite losing seven wickets for 51 South Africa were not bowled out and, according to Tahir, thought their total was enough at the break.
They would have revised that opinion by the end of the third over. Stephan Myburgh, from Pretoria, started as he did in the Dutch chase against Ireland, with aggression and intent. South Africa opened with Albie Morkel instead of JP Duminy for the first time in the tournament and Mybugh took a boundary off him. They had the relative rookie Beuran Hendricks on at the other end and Swart helped himself to a four off him too but it was when Lonwabo Tsotsobe was introduced that Netherlands tucked in.
Myburgh gorged himself with 18 runs off Tsotsobe's first, a slap over point, a clip to long leg, a swing over fine-leg and a swat over mid-off to get the Dutch run-rate up to 10 an over after three. Steyn pulled it back but Tsotsobe took more punishment. His second over cost 15 runs.
Netherlands almost completed the perfect powerplay until Swart, who had mostly been a spectator, tried to clear mid-off but a diving du Plessis gave Steyn his first wicket of the game. Still, the Dutch were 63 for 1 when the fielding restrictions were lifted and well on target.
They were cautious against Tahir at first but took on JP Duminy and it cost Myburgh. After taking 12 runs off the first four balls of Duminy's first over, no other risks had to be taken against him but Myburgh went down the track and inside-edged onto his stumps.
That wicket proved the game-changer and sparked the Dutch collapse. Wesley Barresi was out lbw sweeping Tahir, although replays showed the ball was missing leg-stump, and Peter Borren went the same way. His dismissal was correctly judged.
By the time the captain was dismissed, Netherlands were 96 for 4 and still had Tom Cooper in the middle. His brother Ben went attempting to evade a Steyn bouncer but it was when Tom was bowled trying to pull a quicker Tahir delivery that the chase folded. Although the Dutch needed less than a run a ball, their tail was in and the pressure was too much.
Pieter Seelaar was caught at long-on in the same over and van Beek run-out. Although Bukhari survived Steyn he gave it away off Tsotsobe and was caught at long -on which left van der Gugten and Malik, nursing a niggle, to score 12 runs off 14 balls.
Van der Gugten was dropped off the first of those, by Steyn at midwicket, but the mistake did not cost South Africa. The last pair scored five between them before van der Gugten was caught behind to leave Borren wondering what was worse: to be rolled as they were against Sri Lanka or to have come so close, only to fall so far.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent