Handy Andy proving his worth

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Throughout the ODI series against Sri Lanka little was required from the Protea lower order batsman as the top order inevitably came off to spectacular effect.

This gave rise to a concern that the mettle of their allrounders with the bat in hand had yet to really be tested.

When the Proteas lost four wickets in three overs while chasing 208 to win in 34 overs an opportunity presented itself and for the second time in his short ODI career Andile Phehlukwayo stepped up.

He had previously struck an unbeaten 42 at Kingsmead in a remarkable chase during the series against Australia when David Miller scored a fantastic ton but that had been on a brilliant batting track.

This time he came in with the pressure on and the required rate climbing, AB de Villiers was down the other end but he was struggling to get the ball away on a tricky surface.

Phehlukwayo struck boundaries in each of the last three overs including two big sixes which would see the Proteas achieve the required total with just a ball to spare.

Speaking after his heroics Phehlukwayo told the post match press conference: “I just tried to watch the ball, swing really hard and hit straight.

“The first one, I was just trying to play straight but the second one I definitely knew when it came off the bat that it was going for six.”

De Villiers praised the young man’s efforts saying he was one of the few players to pick up the pace of the wicket but the 20-year-old insists he was simply trying to preempt what the bowlers were going to do based on information fed to him by his skipper.

He added: “From the side it looked like that, but I was just trying to watch the ball and pick what they were trying to do.

“A lot of information was given to me from AB, what the bowler was thinking and what he was trying to bowl so that helped a lot. It was really exciting, I’ve never batted with him before. Everyone knows his abilities but I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of game plans and how I need to train.”

Phehlukwayo admits that he thrives under pressure with the willow in his hand but is keen to improve on his bowling.

He went on: “On the bowling end I probably need to get my pace up and get more consistent with line and length.

“On the batting side I enjoy pressure situations.”

South Africa will be looking to finalise their 15 for the Champions trophy as soon as possible but it would appear Phehlukwayo has gone a long way towards having his name pencilled in to that team sheet.