JOHANNESBURG – South Africa did move two places up the ICC World Cup Super League table with their sole victory in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, but it still left them languishing in ninth place, outside of the automatic qualifying spots for the 2023 World Cup.
The Proteas have now also played more matches than New Zealand, who are currently 10th and with tough series’ still to come against India, Australia and England, the team’s stand-in skipper, Keshav Maharaj, admitted the position on the Super League log “is a bit concerning.”
“We can’t keep saying we are focused on the next series, we need to take care of the points and start winning series’. It’s not ideal,” Maharaj said following South Africa’s 2-1 series defeat to Sri Lanka on Tuesday night. Even a home series against Bangladesh next March, on home soil, is no guarantee for a Proteas side whose most consistent feature at the moment is its inconsistency.
Head coach Mark Boucher, while lamenting a top order collapse in Tuesday’s match, that saw the side lose four wickets inside the first 10 overs while in pursuit of a modest target of 204, also added that losing the first match of the series, was a tough pill to swallow.
“We were given the opportunity to win the series in that first game, we were in control of the run chase and maybe slipped up in a period of five overs,” said Boucher. “In order to win a series in the subcontinent, you have to cash in when the opportunity arises, that is our biggest regret that we didn’t finish off that first game.”
In Tuesday’s third match, there was more assistance available for the spinners, than the previous two encounters, but it was the opening burst of Sri Lanka’s paceman, Dushmantha Chameera that caught the Proteas batsmen off guard. He claimed two wickets, getting the ball to seam and bounce while bowling at around 140km/h. “Maybe we focused too much on their spinners and forgot to take care of the seam bowlers,” Maharaj remarked.
And while the South African batsmen had fared reasonably well against spin in the first two matches, when conditions got slightly more challenging on Tuesday, they found themselves all at sea.
“There was a little bit more turn and bounce, so there is maybe a mental approach that we may need to adjust. Klaasie (Heinrich Klaasen) stuck within his game plan and played the spin really well. Maybe we need to change our mental strategies and approach towards spin. It’s not skill, we do enough work behind close doors leading up to series’, it’s a mindset change that may need us to shift into another direction and come up with a different approach,” said Maharaj.