South Africa’s experimenting was quite severe; a restructured and newly formulated coaching/management structure, coupled with new playing personnel and combinations.
India were also mixing and matching the team’s composition - lengthening the batting order to no.10 - and in Sunday’s second match attempting to put the batsmen in what Virat Kohli called a more pressurised position in a T20 game - setting a score.
“The mindset has to be, to be more flexible, to try things,” said Kohli. “There will be times when things are stacked against us, but we have to try things (before the T20 World Cup).”
South Africa’s batting order needs tinkering
Time’s on the Proteas' side but the pace at which Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen tend to start their innings, really increases the pressure on Quinton de Kock.
It wasn't needed on Sunday, given they were cashing a modest total, but De Kock’s teammates in the top order need to play more aggressively from the start. It was a major part of the reason, they came up short by 30 runs in the first match.
Janneman Malan may be worth another look and perhaps there is scope to move Dave Miller to no.4. Also Faf du Plessis has not retired from the T20 format, and his experience shouldn’t be ignored.
There is life after Imran Tahir
Again, like Du Plessis, Tahir remains available for SA in the T20 format, and will almost certainly come into reckoning for selection for the T20 World Cup next year.
But, Bjorn Fortuin has certainly made a strong case for more game time at international level. Tabraiz Shamsi may infuriate some with his celebrations, but he’s a smart player who’s learning to curb his enthusiasm.
It’s a pity about JJ Smuts’ fitness troubles, but when he gets over those he adds another spinning element. Throw in George Linde and Keshav Maharaj and there is some proper depth in a department South Africa used to ignore.
Beuran Hendricks has to stay fit
South Africa continues to be blessed in the pace department; Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla - and Dale Steyn is still available for the T20 team also.
Where the country is lacking is a left-arm seamer, with Hendricks the only one operating at a high level domestically. Hendricks was first picked for the Proteas in 2014, he was in the T20 World Cup squad that year, but he’s played only 14 matches for his country since.
Sunday’s spell of 2/14 showed skill, pace and intellect. Fitness has been the problem throughout his career and hopefully he can remain fit for a sustained period of time. His variety would be crucial for SA Down Under next year.
Captaincy doesn’t inhibit De Kock
Leadership is not foreign to De Kock, he did it at junior level and interim Team Director Enoch Nkwe is well aware of his ability having worked with him at age group level.
Those that have played with De Kock will point out he’s got a good ‘feel’ for the game and even if he’s not captain, he’s very much part of the leadership group.
His back to back fifties in the two T20s showed that he even as the team’s main batsman, the keeper and captain, he can carry the load and as Sunday showed when he changed his bowlers at just the right time, leadership is no burden for him.
Du Plessis remains the T20 captain and once he returns, he’ll have a strong chief lieutenant by his side.