Proteas' bowlers come to the party in PE
PORT ELIZABETH – South Africa finally executed their ‘death bowling’ skills properly under pressure with the bowlers even earning praise from the opposition.
It wasn’t just a case of nailing their yorkers – which they did – it was how well their overall strategy worked. The Proteas beat Australia by 12 runs, successfully defending a target of 159. Given, that just a week ago, they couldn’t defend 223, Sunday’s performance at St George’s Park has to be seen as a sign of progress, but it must also now become the template.
“We had struggled with our ‘death bowling’ a little bit before this,” South African captain Quinton de Kock said in a most understated fashion afterwards.
Nevermind "struggled," South Africa had executed poorly and lacked clarity in their thinking. That wasn’t the case in Port Elizabeth with South Africa preventing Australia from scoring 43 runs in the last five overs when the tourists had eight wickets in hand.
“South Africa bowled beautifully,” said Australia’s captain Aaron Finch. “They bowled to a really simple and effective plan, they executed very well under pressure.”
That plan involved slower balls – very effective on a sluggish surface with a soft ball - and executing yorkers, something South Africa failed to do in the series loss against England and last Friday in that hammering they took at the Wanderers. Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were excellent in that regard in the last few overs with Rabada’s 19th over – where conceded three runs, one of which was a wide and claimed a wicket, a highlight.
“It was a very difficult build-up, we’ve been in a lot of situations at the ‘death’ and not performed, but we just needed to go out there and back our skills,” Lungi Ngidi, who claimed 3/41, said afterwards.
De Kock and Ngidi acknowledged that Australia had shown the hosts the way with the ball, after both teams had taken advantage against the new, hard ball in the power play. “They bowled very well at the ‘death,” Ngidi said of the Australians, for whom Kane Richardson was the star, claiming 2/21 in four overs.
“We though 160 was par,” said De Kock. “We knew from our innings how difficult it could be to bat at the back end of the innings.”
That proved to be the case. The series is now tied at 1-1, with the decider to be played at Newlands on Wednesday.