Markram happy to have experienced De Kock and Miller back in the Proteas team
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CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s batsmen didn’t push the envelope in the opening T20 International against Sri Lanka on Friday, but still made a total that Aiden Markram described as “slightly above par,” given the conditions at the Premadasa Stadium.
Markram top scored for the Proteas, making 48 as they claimed a comfortable 28-run win in the first of three matches between the sides. "I thought (163/5) was a good score on that wicket, granted we still had to bowl well which we did. It was by no means a cracking score,” said Markram.
Batting at no.3 for just the second time in his brief T20 International career, Markram managed a tricky part of the innings well. After Quinton de Kock – returning to the team after missing the ODI series – and Reeza Hendricks had shared an opening partnership of 73, the Proteas lost three wickets for 14 runs in 19 balls. A brief period of consolidation was required, and with South Africa playing just five frontline batsmen, Markram and David Miller, who had also missed the ODIs, had to rebuild carefully.
“Batting at no.3 is a new challenge. It’s one I am enjoying," said the 26 year old. “You have to be quite street-smart in your approach. The biggest struggle in that position is that your game plan can’t be fixed.”
Markram’s previous innings in that position was in the deciding match of the series against the West Indies in July, when he scored a match-winning 70. However on that occasion, he played as a ‘virtual’ opener, coming to the crease in the first over.
On Friday he had to find the right balance between continuing the momentum created by the openers, while then steering the innings through that tricky period when Sri Lankan leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga had picked up two wickets and Maheesh Theekshana one.
He and Miller shared a partnership of 65 for the fourth wicket and Markram said he was grateful for the left-hand batsman’s guidance.
“We’ve got quite a bit of experience now with Quinny and Dave back and they are providing good communication on and off the field. It was really good batting with Dave, he helped to keep me calm and focused out there.”
Although Hasaranga, the no.2 ranked bowler in the T20 International format behind Tabraiz Shamsi, caused a few problems, South Africa again showed that they are becoming more capable players of spin. “The guys are more confident playing spin nowadays and that's only because of the amount of emphasis we’ve put on it, and the training we’ve done,” said Markram.
“It helps when you have spinners in your own camp who are incredibly good bowlers, and we get to face them day in and day out. The guys have been putting in a lot of hard work regarding spin and the options available to them to score. It is still a work in progress.”
The two teams will meet in the second T20 International on Sunday.