“To be honest, there were a lot of thoughts running through my head. I was just watching the ball and fortunate enough I was in a position where I could just score and place it in the gap.”
“It was one of those moments for me,” Maharaj said. “I knew how big the win is for the team. I think that’s why the emotions were on a high.”
“Fortunately enough, the batters set a bit of foundation and we didn’t have too much [to score] at the back end, so yes, now and then there was a ball to take a risk,” Maharaj said. “But if you look at the bigger picture, with 40 balls to go…we knew if we batted those 40 balls, we would be able to score. Yeah, I had to fight temptation now and then, but I knew if we could take it deep, we could cross over the line.”
Maharaj is a capable batter with two first-class centuries and five Test fifties to his name. But did he really trust Ngidi and Shamsi to stick around with him, when the Pakistan quicks were generating some serious reverse-swing?
“Yeah, definitely,” Maharaj said. “It’s easy for me to stand here and lie to you guys [laughs]. I genuinely did. Especially Lungi, he showed that he could stick around, especially in the game against Netherlands. We had simple plans and unfortunately, he got out to a really good ball and a good catch. Shammo and I have played a lot of cricket together and he’s pretty much like me when it comes to the hamster running in the head, but I’m really glad that he held his nerve. We just kept it simple. And he said to me he’s seeing it [the ball] big.”
Maharaj was also particularly happy with the depth in South Africa’s attack. Prior to the start of the World Cup, Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala were both ruled out with injuries and, during the tournament, they’ve had to deal with niggles to Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada, who missed this match after a back spasm. But Gerald Coetzee has emerged from the fringes and has become South Africa’s enforcer in the middle overs. He has taken 10 wickets in five matches between overs 11 and 40 – the most by any fast bowler during this phase in this World Cup. And in Lucknow and Chennai, where the pitches are traditionally slow and low, they’ve paired Shamsi up with Maharaj.
“Fortunately enough, we have a lot of depth from a fast bowlers’ perspective,” Maharaj said. “And I’m really pleased to see Gerald come through leaps and bounds. It just shows the quality that we have in our squad and I’m especially really happy for Shammo. He’s done an amazing job. He’s done some really hard yards in the nets and it’s good to see it pay off.”