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Cricket news - Steely Phehlukwayo steps up at an opportune time

Can he be South Africa's X-factor in the World Cup?

Fate unfolds in the queerest of ways. At the beginning of 2017, in less than two years, since she returned with a broken heart in the 2015 World Cup semi-finals, South Africa, to new Zealand for a bilateral series and found themselves chasing 12 runs in the final over of the first ODI, the very same number of runs, the Kiwis needed from Dale Steyn on that fateful night.

With AB de Villiers and Andile Phehlukwayo in the middle, that looked Proteas on their Superman to be the sealing of the run-chase. Instead of two balls in the over, the pilgrim, then a 20-year-old Phehlukwayo, toe-ended Tim Southee over the long boundary for six. The game was not won with the shot, but South Africa needed just three to seal the win and de Villiers, completed the formalities.

Phehlukwayo, six was called 'lucky', the ironically, his first name, and if you don't know why he's in the team in the first place, it was a fair enough conclusion to draw from the mis-hit for six. However, in the next game in Christchurch, South-Africa, found at 214 for eight, chasing 290 and Phehlukwayo, walk in at No 10, in addition to a war leading Dwaine Pretorius, the Proteas to the brink of a win. South Africa needed 15 in the last over from Southee and Phehlukwayo some extraordinary death faced bowling from the Kiwi seamer, play four points on the trot before smashing a couple of fours in frustration. South Africa lost, but Phehlukwayo had learned an important lesson -that the holding was in disharmony is an art-which is crucial-one that doesn't dominate South Africa as well.

Phehlukwayo had rooted in him. From a humble background - his mother is a house staff - he had to fight for everything, was finally achieved. He's often the last man found himself in pressure situations for the Proteas, the last in the second ODI against Pakistan in Durban on Tuesday. South Africa were under the pump at 80 for five, if Phehlukwayo newbie Rassie van der Dussen joined in the middle, and he took over immediately, with his luck and copping alleged racist insults from the opposition skipper. It is important to follow that he remained undefeated until the end and around South Africa with a victory, unfazed by the noise around him and hit a career-best 69, until the 4 for 22, he took the ball in the first innings - his best figures in an ODI.

"All I can do is work hard behind the scenes and keep my game plans," Phehlukwayo said in the post-match press conference. These game-plans often include less conservative techniques, as his compatriots.

Even before he had convinced 10 bullets in his home ground in Durban, which was the dolphins all-rounder backward curved Shadab Khan. After CricViz, Phehlukwayo has played 23 reverse returns in his career, more than what other South African has done in this time. There is little information appears to be irrelevant, but there are Phehlukwayo mentality, in times of unrest.

Before the series, du Plessis was hoping at least one of his all-round options would come in and own the not.7-position. "We hope that the next 10 games on the Sri Lanka series as a good all-rounder, of which there is Andile Phehlukwayo, Wiaan Mulder, Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius, you have at least one or two of these guys, he really said your hand up and shout to the selectors 'pick me'," had.

With its characteristic resistance in difficult situations, Phehlukwayo is fast many of the ticking of these boxes for his skipper.

The KwaZulu-Natal all-rounder had presented some potential in the area to the right of franchise cricket, he joined, despite playing only one game in the under-19 World Cup-winning campaign next to Aiden Markram and Kagiso Rabada. He helped his franchise side, the dolphins, to a decisive victory in the Ram Slam T20 semi-final in 2015, albeit with the ball. With the Cape Cobras only 18 in the last three rounds, Phehlukwayo and Dwyane Bravo - someone South African fans Phehlukwayo hope is on you to emulate conceded just nine between them and the dolphins won the game. In the Momentum One Day Cup, which followed, Phehlukwayo was once again a key player for the dolphins, revel in its possibilities, in the death, and the end of the season with a six-wicket haul and a run-out in a win over the titans.

He was in the national scheme of things through the ODI series against Australia at the end of 2016, and it took a little time to Phehlukwayo, to demonstrate his innate determination. In a run-chase of 372 in Durban, he found himself walking in 265 for six, with David Miller going bonkers at one end. With more than 100 more than a run-a-ball, Müller was in danger of out-of-partners. Phehlukwayo, who had struck only once before in ODIs in his career, its the end of failsafe, hit a 59-ball 42 in the profit and played the perfect foil to Miller's heroics.

He was the replication of his pyrotechnics with the bat for the Proteas in limited overs cricket, remaining unbeaten in six of the 12 ODIs during the hunt, and clocking an average of 36.33. With a plethora of variations, ranging from knuckle balls and back-of-the-hand slower balls clever variations in Tempo, Phehlukwayo packs a punch with the ball. What has him in the national team, be it in the first place - his death bowling is still a work in progress, but his temperament in the death, it is with bat, ball or in the field, is unmistakable. For further proof, return to the three sixes that he hit to South Africa to defend their only victory in the ODI series against India last year, or his entrance with the ball in England in the previous year, in the defence of 11 in the final over of a T20I, he nailed a yorker from the last ball, four runs are necessary.

As South Africa pick and choose their best options for the upcoming world Cup, Phehlukwayo has taken his hand and a penchant for game-situations in South Africa usually shy away from. "It was not until Lance Klusener [dolphins coach said a few years back], he wanted me to bowl the death overs and it will be at the end of the bat, I realized how much I enjoyed it. Now I want to be involved, whenever I can, if the result on the line," Phehlukwayo said, the Mail and Guardian in 2017.

This from a South African player is huge.

He was maybe a bit too little, and mixed, in the Champions Trophy in 2017, without clarity about its role in a team of several bits and pieces all-rounder, but as another marquee event approaches, Phehlukwayo has given enough clues to suggest he can be that x-factor for the Proteas, when his colleagues are experiencing sweaty palms.

He is neither a great finisher as his mentor on the dolphins, Klusener, a frontline seamer. He is not necessarily a first-choice pick in the squad, let alone in the elf, but in a line-up, yellow-bellied, the modest all-rounder, an immunity shot against the same. South Africa need, a bravado to break a good shot, the jinx that you followed, since 1992.

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