South Africa (182-6, 20 ovs) (Reeza Hendricks 42; Gareth Delany 2-24) beat Ireland (138 all out, 18.5 ovs) (Harry Tector 34; Wayne Parnell 5-30) by 44 runs.
After seven T20 internationals this summer, Ireland have recorded seven defeats, the latest coming by a margin of 44 runs against South Africa, who wrapped up a 2-0 series win at Bristol. Five games against Afghanistan remain before Ireland travel to Australia for the T20 World Cup, but a worrying number of questions remain unanswered so close to a major tournament.
Caveats about the high standard of opposition certainly apply – South Africa, India and New Zealand certainly present stiffer challenges than Scotland and Zimbabwe, Ireland’s upcoming rivals for World Cup progression – but the repetitive nature of some of Ireland’s issues is a concern.
The main one is the batting powerplay. In the seven T20Is played this campaign, on four occasions Ireland have lost three or more wickets during the first six overs. On Friday night, a second over double-strike from Wayne Parnell removed Andrew Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker in consecutive balls, putting South Africa firmly in the ascendancy in their defence of 182 for six.
Paul Stirling and Harry Tector recovered nicely to take Ireland from 9 for two off three overs to a powerplay score of 40 for three off six, but the departure of Stirling to a Lungi Ngidi slower ball extinguished much of Ireland’s dwindling hope.
From there, Tector combined with Curtis Campher to put on 47 for the fifth wicket but support from other outlets was lacking. Parnell ended with figures of five for 30 as the Irish tail was dismissed for a total of 138, one that was inflated by Barry McCarthy’s cameo of 32 off 19 balls.
In the first innings, signs were positive with the ball as McCarthy, Mark Adair and Josh Little all threatened with early swing. Gareth Delany’s leg-spin came good after being backed through a few expensive outings, the Leinster man brilliantly skidding the ball flat into the pitch to dry up scoring and return figures of 2-24.
Carnage followed his spell as Adair and McCarthy conceded a combined 48 runs off consecutive overs to David Miller (32 not out) and Heinrich Klaasen (39), albeit that duo along with Little combined to restrict South Africa well during the final three overs. Reeza Hendricks top scored for the Proteas, finishing just short of yet another half-century on 42.