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‘I’ll take 2-2’, says Mark Boucher after Proteas T20 series in India

Proteas bowler Lungi Ngidi (c) celebrate with hisKeshav Maharaj after the dismissal of India's Ruturaj Gaikwad (not pictured) during the fifth T20 international cricket against India. Photo: Manjunath Kiran/EPA

Proteas bowler Lungi Ngidi (c) celebrate with hisKeshav Maharaj after the dismissal of India's Ruturaj Gaikwad (not pictured) during the fifth T20 international cricket against India. Photo: Manjunath Kiran/EPA

Published Jun 20, 2022

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Cape Town - Proteas coach Mark Boucher has bemoaned the loss of Aiden Markram during the recently-concluded T20I series against India.

The visitors maintained their unbeaten T20I series record in India after the final game was washed out in Bengaluru. The series was poised for an exciting climax after India had fought back to level it at 2-2 in Rajkot after losing the first two matches to the Proteas.

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After a successful Indian Premier League season with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Proteas could unfortunately not call on Markram for the entire series after the World’s No 1 ranked T20 batter tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the first match in Delhi.

Markram was initially meant to serve his seven-day isolation period and return to the squad, but management ultimately decided to send him home with two games remaining.

Boucher believes Makram’s absence severely affected the balance of the Proteas team with seam-bowling all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius promoted to No 3 for this series. The contingency plan worked in the first win in Delhi, but India’s new-ball bowlers, particularly the impressive Bhuvneshwar Kumar, responded well in the remaining games by keeping South Africa’s top-order batters in check during the crucial Powerplay overs.

After posting 61/1 at the Feroz Shah Kotla where Pretorius clubbed 29 off 13 balls, South Africa did not reach 40 again in the first six overs with totals of 29/3 (Cuttack), 38/2 (Vizag) and 35/2 (Rajkot).

This was, of course, further exacerbated with the loss of the dynamic Quinton de Kock for the second and third T20Is due to a hand injury with Reeza Hendricks and Temba Bavuma failing to provide the impetus required upfront.

“There are plenty of lessons we can take [from this result]. It was tough losing Aiden Markram before we even started the first game. It put us under pressure. We wanted to play six batters, with Aiden also being our sixth bowling option. We couldn’t do that,” Boucher said.

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“We also came up against some quality bowling. Bhuvi was exceptional in this whole series. He put us under pressure in the Powerplays. Barring one game, that's an area that India dominated us in, with both bat and ball over our players and that's something we will definitely look into and try and improve.

“We struggled in quite a few of the games to get going. Especially in the third game. We didn’t go in and bat with the intent we needed.”

Overall, Boucher said “I’ll take two-all” due to his team only performing well in patches in all departments, and the fact that they were facing a battle-hardened India T20 outfit.

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“You come to India off the back of an IPL season. A lot of their players are in good form. They’ve played a lot of cricket in these conditions. I’ll take two-all. We didn’t play our best cricket.

“Our bowling at certain stages was very good. And on other occasions, we looked a little bit rusty. But yeah, a lot of lessons in a World Cup year where we can still see if we can plug a few gaps going to Australia.”

South Africa’s next T20I assignment is a three-match series against England that begins towards the end of next month before a couple of more T20Is against Ireland in August to wrap up preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia.

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