Proteas allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo says he thrives on the responsibility given to him at the backend of an innings in the ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka.
The 22-year-old had a slow start to the series in the opening match, but behind the scenes work with head coach, Ottis Gibson, and learning from his mistakes led to an improved performance in the five-wicket win in the second match in Dambulla on Wednesday.
He took 3/45 in a spell highlighted by the clever use of variations – particularly during the death overs- which helped to restrict Sri Lanka to a meagre score of 244/8.
“Personally, I went back to look at the footage with the coach to see if there was anything I could have gained or improved on from the first match,” he said. “I tried to use a lot of variations towards the end, I tried to hit the deck a lot harder. We had a good practice the day before the match and the guys were positive in terms of coming hard at the batters. That taught me how to execute my plans when the batsman is coming hard at me during the game.”
The big-hitting left-hander was also there at the death with the bat, and along with fellow all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, held his nerve to take the Proteas across the line in tricky conditions. Phehlukwayo has shown he can win matches for the Proteas under pressure before, notably with an unbeaten 42 in the chase against Australia in Durban and his heroics under pressure against New Zealand in Hamilton last year.
“It was my first time coming out to bat this tour, it was a bit tricky, the first few balls turned and ripped quite a lot,” he explained. “I got a lot of confidence after playing the reverse-sweep shot which is one I quite enjoy. There is still a lot of work that I still need to do on the side, getting used to the conditions isn’t going to be easy. I really enjoyed it and I thrive on taking responsibility and wanting to be there at the end. I was lucky enough to be there at the end which is something I am proud of.”
For the Proteas, the third ODI at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy on Sunday presents an opportunity for a rare series win on the island, a feat that has only been achieved once before – a 2-1 triumph in 2014.
“That is the goal at the moment,” Phehlukwayo said of the series win. “The guys are working hard, they are positive and we are playing some good cricket as a team. We are not putting any pressure on ourselves but it is something that we would like to do. Teams don’t come here often and win, let alone being 3-0 up, that is something we would like to achieve as a team.”
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