Proteas coach Ottis Gibson takes charge during a practice session. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - While the South African women’s team will look to build on a win that kept alive their hopes in their five match T20 series against India, for their male counterparts its very much a case of finding some confidence and giving themselves a foundation from which to re-establish themselves against a rampaging Indian team.

The difference in tone between Dane van Niekerk and JP Duminy following their team’s respective performances at the Wanderers last Sunday spoke to the atmosphere in both camps. Van Niekerk’s group believe they are capable of a comeback in their series in which they are 1-2 down with two to play. India won by seven and nine wickets respectively in the first two matches, but Van Niekerk outlined how her side created enough chances, that while the outcomes of those matches would make it seem as if India dominated, in fact South Africa were always creating chances in the field, just not taking them.

That changed last Sunday, with the likes of Lizelle Lee behind the stumps, and Sune Luus hanging onto some very good catches, and thus being able to put their Indian opponents under pressure. The early dismissal of Mithali Raj, India’s vastly experienced and classy opener helped too.

Far from merely wanting to mimic Sunday’s performance Van Niekerk and coach Hilton Moreeng will demand further improvement. For all of India’s endeavour early on, the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana were allowed to many boundary balls in the first half of Indian team’s innings.

With the bat, South Africa will demand a better start, even if the insurance of the big hitting Chloe Tryon is a nice weapon to have late on.

At least Van Niekerk and Co. have a good and confident base to work off of, the same can’t be said Duminy’s team. Their plans with the ball are one-dimensional and it’s about time, they set aside the ‘short ball’ strategy to India. This Indian team, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar stated on Sunday night, is not like others from that country, that may have feared the short ball. They are a lot more proficient on the backfoot and worst of all they’re expecting it from the South African bowlers

The bouncer’s been used excessively - since about the third Test - and needs to be used more as a surprise element by the home team. It’s not a case of wondering if the South African bowlers can change, but ensuring that they must and Ottis Gibson, needs to revise the strategy and has hopefully drilled it into the bowlers to use the short ball more judiciously in the last two matches of the series.

Among the batsmen Duminy and David Miller will be under the most scrutiny in Centurion and in Cape Town, as they must now deliver performances that underscore their experience. There is as Duminy said Sunday, no place to hide, it’s front up or shut up, for those two in particular this week.

The women’s match starts at 1pm. The first ball in men’s match will be bowled at 6pm.

Meanwhile Dale Steyn will first need to play a four day game to prove his fitness, which means he is likely miss the first Test against Australia starting in Duban on March 1.Steyn sustained a ligament injury in his left foot during the first Test against India at Newlands in January.

“We will know more next week, but as you’ve seen on social media he’s back to running, and he’ll be increasing his bowling intensity. The medical staff want him to play a four day game before he can be considered for selection (for the Tests),” said, the SA team’s team doctor and manager, Mohammed Moosajee.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis will have his first bat on Wednesday after breaking a finger at the start of the ODI series and if he comes through that without hassle will captain the side at Kingsmead, while Temba Bavuma, who also fractured a finger playing for the Cape Cobras, will play for Soweto Cricket Club this weekend, which Moosajee said would double up as a fitness test.

AB de Villiers who was ruled out of the T20 Internationals against India after copping a blow on his left knee, should be fit for the Durban Test, while Quinton de Kock has fully recovered from his bruised left wrist - and trained with the team at SuperSport Park on Tuesday - is in line for selection for the Australia series as well.

IOL Sport

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