What is the best way to respond to criticisms? If David Miller is the man who has been earmarked to answer this question, he did it with aplomb during the third ODI against Australia in Durban where he smashed his 3rd ODI century and helped South Africa pull off the second-highest chase of all time and seal the series against Australia.
Miller who has acquired quite a name as a fearless hitter came to his own and almost singlehandedly smoked the hapless Australian bowlers to all parts of Kingsmead and scripted an amazing heist for his team. The fact that this knock came with a tweaked groin will make it all the more romantic.
The left-hander was on 26 in the 31st over when he suffered a groin injury as he attempted to take a quick run. The physio was called upon, and the match was halted for some time. This break did not augur well for the hosts as JP Duminy was dismissed on the first ball in the next over. The score read 217 for 5 and the target was a distant 155 runs away. However, Miller decided to take matters into his own hand and along with young Andile Phehlukwayo, scripted an amazing display of stroke-making. The duo put together 107 off 70 balls for the seventh wicket and took South Africa home.
Along the way, he did have his share of luck when he survived a review in the 34th over. The left-hander was on 40 when Matthew Wade was so adamant that he had heard a nick that Steve Smith decided to review the decision. However, Snickometer did not agree, and this handed Miller a fresh lease of life.
There are few people who doubt the brute force that Miller has, but right through this innings what stood out was his pristine timing. He was severe on anything short and unfurled an array of pulls and hooks to put the inexperienced Australian bowling to the sword. The crowd was right into the match, and one spectator even pouched a superlative one-handed catch in the stands. He never panicked at any stage during his innings and found an able ally in Phehlukwayo. The young man was playing in front of his home crowd and enthralled the local crowd with his audacious strokeplay. He too had his share of good fortune when he nicked an outswinger from Chris Tremain, but umpire Adrian Holdstock was unmoved. Steve Smith was a helpless man as he had no reviews up his sleeve.
South Africa entered the final 10 overs needing a further 88 runs to do the unthinkable. Miller was on 71 off 54 balls, and he decided to ramp it up even further. He got to his century off 69 balls, but the celebrations were relatively muted. There was a job to do, and he had to also guide the young Phehlukwayo at the other end. This did not impede his strokeplay on bit as he smashed a Daniel Worrall delivery out of the ground with a massive swing of his bat.
Phehlukwayo then took over and stroked a six and four off John Hastings in the 49th over, and the job had been done, well almost. He then got down low and reverse swept Adam Zampa just over the 30-yard circle to send Kingsmead into a frenzy. The Australians were shocked, they did not know what had hit them!
Miller ended with a 79-ball 118, and this innings included 10 fours and 6 sixes. Young Phehlukwayo who was mobbed by his teammates at the end of the innings chipped in with a brilliant cameo, and he was unbeaten on 42. He timed his big hits to perfection and was a crucial cog in the scheme of things.
Australia looked a deflated lot, and they have already lost the 5-match series. How will they manage to regroup and mount a comeback in the remainder of the series remains to be seen.