Proteas’ T20 inexperience shows

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Pakistan know how to play T20 cricket and they gave the South Africans a masterclass at SuperSport Park on Sunday.

Centurion – There are a number of problems that beset the national T20 team, but experience is foremost among them.

It means there’s very little tactical nous, game management is virtually non-existent and strategies can’t be implemented out in the middle.

South Africa were comprehensively beaten in this KFC T20 International and their problems started with the ball. Of the frontline bowlers picked for Sunday’s match, Robin Peterson was the most experienced and he was playing in just his 20th T20 International. South Africa’s frontline bowlers split a total of 40 caps between them, with Kyle Abbott making his debut, Chris Morris playing just his second match and Rory Kleinveldt his sixth.

By comparison Pakistan’s frontline bowling unit have a combined total of 202 caps between them and on Sunay they didn’t even utilise Shahid Afridi, their second highest wicket-taker in this format.

South Africa’s bowling, for large parts, was awful. Lines were inconsistent, lengths too and if there was a plan it certainly wasn’t discernible to those watching.

Captain Faf du Plessis spoke about the importance of keeping his bowlers calm especially when his opposite number, Mohammed Hafeez, and Ahmed Shahzad were obliterating the bowling in the first half of the innings.

Hafeez, who experienced a wretched Test series, where he scored just 43 runs, made double that figure in one innings here yesterday with a stunning performance that was helped along by some woeful South African bowling.

His innings included nine fours and four sixes and came from just 51 balls as he rapidly put the rookie SA bowling line-up under pressure.

“We’ve talked about how the shorter the format, the greater the chance of one individual coming through and winning the game.

“For Hafeez to score 86 was an excellent performance, he played some excellent shots, showed great skill and put our bowlers under pressure. And then Umar Gul, was just a case of us going hard up front trying to get the right rate down early,” Du Plessis explained.

In a match so dominated by one team there were only pockets of positivity for the hosts. They came back well with the ball, restricting Pakistan to 41 runs in the last six overs and picking up five wickets. Chris Morris, who’d been hammered early by Hafeez to the tune of 29 runs in his first two overs, returned to register figures of 2/6 in his last two overs while Kleinveldt – along with Lonwabo Tsotsobe the best of the South African bowlers – finished with 2/27.

The two spinners took a pasting with Peterson and Justin Ontong combining for 0/58 from four overs.

AB de Villiers played brightly at the start, but Pakistan’s more experienced attack were not going to make life as easy for the opposing batsmen as the home team’s attack had done earlier. Showing far greater craft, skill and variety than the South Africans, they knocked over five wickets inside the PowerPlay period.

With the exception of De Villiers – who produced an electrifying innings of 36 that included some outrageous shot making, one of which was a “scoop” over fine leg for six off Mohammed Irfan – none of the South African batsmen could apply any pressure to the Pakistan bowlers. Gul finished with 5/6 and Hafeez rounded off an excellent all round performance by taking 3/25.

In a sign of a lack of strategy and certainly panic, three of the top six were dismissed first ball and the decision to send Morris in at No4, where he’d never played before, failed.

Pakistan won at a canter, and South Africa’s planning for the World Cup in Bangladesh next year has taken a major hit.

As De Villiers – with 45 caps by some distance SA’s most experienced T20 player – showed, South Africa badly need some “old hands” in the side. – The Star


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