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Proteas in fine form in One-Day Cup ahead of Bangladesh series

Rassie van deer Dussen of the Lions celebrates his half century during their CSA One Day Cup match against Western Province at The Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday

Rassie van deer Dussen of the Lions celebrates his half century during their CSA One Day Cup match against Western Province at The Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Mar 14, 2022


Johannesburg — Victor Mpitsang and his national selection panel would have been pleased as punch with the Proteas players’ showing in the opening rounds of the CSA One-Day Cup.

With the exception of Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock, the rest of the 16-man squad all played for their respective provinces and for the most part produced the kind of quality performances expected of players picked for the national team

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The things that will have pleased the national selectors; Janneman Malan and Rassie van der Dussen making runs, a return to form — hopefully — for Aiden Markram, wickets for Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Wayne Parnell and Dwaine Pretorius. There’ll be minor concerns that Temba Bavuma didn’t get runs, but there’s no need for sleepless nights and Andile Phehlukwayo continues to veer between outstanding and mediocre, with his performances.

Mpitsang would have looked at Sisanda Magala and sighed. The man who was omitted from the squad for the series against Bangladesh took 6/55 in the first match for the Central Gauteng Lions, followed that up with 3/37 on Sunday against Western Province and added a responsible half-century with the bat for good measure.

Given all the chatter he’s caused across social media and in commentary boxes, the other seam bowling all-rounders will know they can ill-afford to let their standards — or fitness — slip lest the selectors go back to Magala at some point. Mpitsang admitted last week that he remained on the panel’s radar, but the onus was on him to resolve the issues around his fitness.

It was notable that on Sunday, as the Lions and Western Province played out their tight encounter at the Wanderers, that Magala had left the field after completing his 10 overs and that some of his bowling in his final spell wasn’t as good as his first two spells. That perhaps underscores the selector’s concerns about picking him for a three match series, with matches spread over less than a week and where there is a lot at stake for the Proteas.

On the batting front Malan’s two half-centuries, one of which came at Centurion, which will host the first and third ODIs, showed how well grooved his batting continues to be. He was the mainstay of both innings for the Rocks, one in a losing cause against the rampant Titans and the second against the Knights, setting up a victory at Paarl.

Van der Dussen, batted under pressure in both of his knocks; He had to hold the Lions’ innings together as they slumped to 83/7 against WP, and made 67, and two days earlier after the top order crashed to 18/3, he shared crucial partnerships for the fourth and fifth wickets with Dominic Hendricks and Mitchell van Buuren to help the Lions post a winning total.

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Those two performances almost summed up Van der Dussen’s international season; outside of his century against India in the first ODI of that series, his output in terms of runs hasn’t been enormous, but the innings’ he’s played have been hugely impactful.

Ngidi claimed 5/33 in his first match in two months against the Rocks last Friday, bowling with all the menace for which he is known and also displaying the kind of variety that he doesn’t get enough credit for.

Hopefully he will remain fit, because the three way combination he, Rabada and Marco Jansen, who bowled well for the Warriors at the Wanderers last Friday, provide, will worry the Bangladeshis.

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South Africa ‘s squad got together Monday to start preparations ahead of that series. Unlike the matches against India earlier this summer, which took place in a very strict bio-bubble, CSA has created what its called a “managed event environment,” for this series, that will allow players and management to eat out and some of the players based in Gauteng can stay at home.

Meanwhile CSA is still awaiting the outcome of the government’s decision regarding the national state of disaster. It will impact on the federation’s ability to possibly host more than the current 2000 fans for the ODIs in Centurion and at the Wanderers.

The match at the ‘Bullring’ will be the annual ‘Pink Day,’ which raises awareness around breast cancer and is one of the marquee events on the South African cricket calendar. The Wanderers is hoping it can allow 30% of the stadium’s capacity for Sunday’s match — which would be around 8000 people.

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