South Africa 182 for 6 (Hendricks 42, Klaasen 39, Delany 2-24) beat Ireland 138 (Tector 34, Parnell 5-30, Pretorius 3-33) by 44 runs
South Africa wrapped up the white-ball leg of their tour to the UK with a second T20I series win after sweeping Ireland 2-0. Their 44-run triumph in Bristol was their fourth victory from five T20Is in ten days, and has given them as good a preparation period as they could have hoped for ahead of the World Cup.
Ireland, on the other hand, slumped to an eighth successive T20I defeat, and their third series loss this summer. They have not won a T20I since qualifying for the T20 World Cup in February, and host Afghanistan for five matches later this month as they seek to get combinations right before the big tournament.
On the evidence of this series, Ireland's attack need to work on their discipline - they bowled 13 wides in the first match, and eight wides and a no-ball in the second - while their batting line-up is desperate for Paul Stirling to return to form, and at least one other in the top six to contribute.
After putting up a good fight in the opening match, they fell well short in the second against a South African attack which adjusted well to conditions. Wayne Parnell's use of the short ball earned him a career-best 5 for 30, while Dwaine Pretorius chipped in with 3 for 33.
In the end, Ireland will also be rightly frustrated with the number of runs they conceded in a short period of time after they kept South Africa quiet at the beginning and the end of their innings. South Africa were 93 for 4 after 14 overs, but David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen shared 71 runs for the fifth wicket to take them over 180.
Thus, South Africa have now won 18 of their last 26 T20I matches dating back to June last year, including four series wins and a draw.
A powerplay with plenty of chances
Ireland created several opportunities with the new ball but had to wait until Quinton de Kock played a poor stroke for one of them to count. They should have removed de Kock for 1, when they took away the slip and de Kock nicked the final ball off Andy McBrine's opening over but there was no one to take the catch.
They could have removed him in the next over too when Mark Adair teased the outside edge with a ball that angled away but was too good for de Kock to hit. Adair beat de Kock again in his next over, and then squared him up. And they could have removed him in Josh Little's first over as well when, in desperation, de Kock swatted a short-of-a-length ball over mid-on.
Finally, they did get him when he tried to pull Barry McCarthy, and found Curtis Campher at deep square leg. De Kock has now gone 11 T20I innings without a fifty, which last came in September 2021.
At the other end, Reeza Hendricks also found the going tough, flashed a few times, and was beaten often, but interspersed that with some glorious strokes, and was on 32 off 22 balls when de Kock was dismissed.
Delany digs a hole for South Africa
South Africa dragged themselves to 58 for 2 after 11 overs, before Aiden Markram took it upon himself to get things moving. He scored 24 off the 26 runs taken off McBrine's final over - Hendricks got a single and there was a wide - so Gareth Delany may have been a little nervous about bowling his third.
But the legspinner struck immediately when he broke through Hendricks' defence to deny him becoming the only batter to score five successive T20I fifties, and then had Markam pulling a short ball straight to deep midwicket. South Africa were 85 for 4 in the 13th over, and 93 for 4 after 14, and at that stage, 150 looked fairly far away,
Miller, Klaasen lift them out
But in the space of the next 18 balls, South Africa did scale 150; in fact, they were now in a position to push for 180-plus. Miller and Klaasen smashed 71 in their partnership, including 63 runs in three overs to undo all of Ireland's disciplined work.
Klaasen began with a pair of sweeps against Delany before Miller carted him over long-off; then Miller hit Adair for back-to-back sixes and a four through the covers, before the two batters combined to plunder 28 off McCarthy's third over. Although McCarthy stuck to a yorker length, one that was too wide went through point for four, while two others, which turned out to be full tosses, were hit for six.
South Africa were 156 for 4 after 17 overs, and may have even had 200 in their sights before Little had Klaasen caught at short third. Eventually, Ireland conceded 25 runs in the last three overs to keep South Africa to 181.
Parnell is probably third in the allrounder queue, after Andile Phehlukwayo and Pretorius, but his performances with the ball in this series have been a timely reminder of what he can do. He was used at first change on Wednesday, but opened the bowling on this match, and had swing on offer.
But it was extra bounce that Parnell got up front, which got the better of Andy Balbirnie, who tried to bunt a back-of-a-length ball through the covers but got a leading edge to Keshav Maharaj, and departed for an eight-ball duck. Parnell's next ball was on a good length, as Lorcan Tucker advanced down the track to try and hit it over the top, but sent a half-hearted stroke to Pretorius at mid-on to leave Parnell on a hat-trick.
Harry Tector survived the hat-trick ball but Ireland were in early trouble on 3 for 2. Parnell returned in the 13th over and took two more wickets with the short ball, and then claimed a fifth when de Kock took a diving catch to remove Andy McBrine. This was Parnell's first T20I five-for, and took him to 50 wickets in the format.
Down, and then out
Stirling has not scored a T20I half-century this year, and not in 14 innings since a 51 against Oman last December, but he looked like he might change that with powerful shots on the leg side off Parnell's second over, and an almighty pull off Pretorius. Lungi Ngidi was brought on to replace Parnell, and caught Stirling by surprise with a good length ball when he was anticipating something shorter.
Stirling was too early on the pull, and bottom-edged on to his box, resulting in him immediately going down in a heap of pain. He regained his composure after a few minutes, but Ngidi had worked him out and delivered a full, slower ball which Stirling swung at. The leading edge went in the direction of short third, where Markram, running from point, caught it.
Ireland ended the powerplay on 40 for 3, thus with little chance of challenging South Africa. They managed two partnerships in the 40s, but were bowled out in the 19th over.