Steve Smith saving a ball from the other side of the boundary. (Screengrab/Twitter/cricket.com.au)
Steve Smith has been the centre of attraction ever since he landed in South Africa for the two white-ball series. After getting booed by the home crowd for hitting a dead ball for a boundary in the first T20I, the Australian batsman is now being lauded for his superlative effort in the field during the second T20I versus Australia in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
It all began with South Africa captain Quinton de Kock winning the toss and opting to bat first hoping to set a massive target for the visitors. de Kock started his blitzkrieg from the second over itself, and in the sixth over of the match, Smith proved to be a worthy adversary for the Proteas skipper's devastating batting.
In the second ball of the sixth over, de Kock, on 31, pummelled Adam Zampa's half-tracker for an assured six but Smith pulled off an extraordinary piece of fielding, as he flew in the air and caught the ball in mid-air.
Realising he was falling outside the boundary line, Smith threw the ball inside the ground within a split second whilst he was air-borne, thus turning an assured six into a paltry single.
— Mohammad Bilal 🇵🇰 (@M_Bilal49) February 23, 2020
St. George's Park was on their feet, applauding the 30-year-old's miraculous fielding effort. Despite saving five runs from the other side of the boundary, Smith soon witnessed his team concede a four and a six in the same over as de Kock bulldozed his way to 43 from 20 balls.
The South African captain was ultimately dismissed on 70 by Zampa himself, as the batsman was caught by Mitchell Starc. South Africa were 158/4 at the end of the 20 overs with David Miller (11*) and Pite van Biljon (7*) on the crease.
Before the start of the series, Smith told reporters about how he felt about the kind of reception he will get during his time in South Africa, considering his involvement in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.
"They are hostile at the best of times here. It doesn't bother me too much. I honestly don't notice it, particularly when I am batting. I don't really hear anything that's going on and I block it all out," he had said.
"Maybe a little bit when I am fielding. But then again it's just words, it doesn't affect me. I think I will be doing some outfielding, so I'm looking forward to it. I will smile and laugh and play along and have fun."
Earlier on Friday, Australia posted a massive 107-run victory over the hosts after South Africa were bundled for just 89 in their run chase. Steve Smith had scored a 32-ball 45, hitting five fours and a six in the win.