Phehlukwayo shows he's the real deal

Andile Phehlukwayo (Gallo)
Andile Phehlukwayo (Gallo)

Durban - When 20-year-old Andile Phehlukwayo walked to the wicket at Kingsmead on Wednesday night, the Proteas were 265/6, still 107 runs away from victory against Australia in the third ODI. 

When he left the turf an hour later, he was a hero. 

Phehlukwayo, who took 4/44 in the opening ODI to announce himself with the ball, was 42* (39) on Wednesday to do just that with the bat. 

It may not seem like it on the surface, but Phehlukwayo's innings was almost as important as David Miller's 118*. 

Miller, in full flight, was running out of partners. 

And, initially, it didn't look like he was going to get much support from Phehlukwayo. 

The Dolphins man struggled to get his feet and timing going, and there was a definite sense that the Aussies were smelling blood and a way back into the series after having posted 371/6 in the first innings - a new record at Kingsmead.

"He started a little bit slowly and he was really nervous," Miller said of Phehlukwayo.

"I told him just to breathe and count to three and let’s just bat here.

"As he got going … he hits the ball really hard. He can hit boundaries; beat the inner gaps and clear the rope so he’s a huge talent.

"He’s got a lot to learn but he really showed tonight that he’s something special."

Just four matches into his ODI career, Phehlukwayo has shown that he is the real deal. 

He has not needed time to adjust to the rigours of international cricket and has looked completely at home. 

Phehlukwayo molds his game on former Proteas star Lance Klusener, who was his coach at the Dolphins up until this year. 

According to Faf du Plessis, the Proteas need finishers like that.

"I’ve seen him strike the ball nicely in the nets. Obviously that’s a lot different than playing in games," Du Plessis said of Phehlukwayo.

"The great thing is that today will be a huge learning curve for him and he’ll learn a hell of a lot from today.

"In his first 10 or 15 balls he probably never thought he could get across the line from that position.

"This will give him confidence to become a finisher and we need that. We need guys that come in at No 7 and 8 and can do that for us because we haven’t had it.

"That’s possibly why if you get the top three out we were a team under pressure, but now our batting line-up is longer and it gives the guys a little more freedom to play aggressively."

The Proteas now move to Port Elizabeth for the fourth ODI on Sunday before finishing off the series in Cape Town next Wednesday.

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