Reeza Hendricks (left) departs during the ODI game between South Africa and Pakistan at St Georges Park, Port Elizabeth. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

DURBAN – There was a lot of intensity about the Proteas practice yesterday. Durban was as sticky as Durban can be on non-match days, so there was no shortage of perspiration about.

1-0 down in the series, the South African team looked like they wanted to get back on an even keel at the first time of asking. It is funny, but the nature of their defeat was as much down to Pakistan winning it, as it was SA possibly misreading the situation.

266, as it turned out, was not nearly enough. Even if it was for two.

“It was quite slow during the day and the spinner got it to turn too,” opener Reeza Hendricks reiterated about the St George’s Park wicket.

He added that it had been hard to get going through the ball and then, as luck would have it, the evening dew allowed the ball to come onto bat a bit better.

Pakistan’s slick start made SA’s slow finish look even worse, because there appeared to be greater urgency. Hendricks did also point out that they had lost to a decent team. It wasn’t all SA’s doing.

“We know that Pakistan are a good ODI outfit, and they proved it in PE. Tomorrow will be a big game for us and we’re definitely looking to bounce back and improve from PE,” he said.

Reeza Hendricks of the Proteas during the ODI game between South Africa and Pakistan at St Georges Park. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix
Reeza Hendricks of the Proteas during the ODI game between South Africa and Pakistan at St Georges Park. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

Hasan Ali, the Pakistan seamer, added that they had been surprised to see SA meander through the final 10 overs, with so many wickets in hand.

“I don’t know why they didn’t go for big runs (after 40 overs). Maybe they thought that 260 was enough, but there is a new culture in cricket now,” Ali said, talking about the sense of greater urgency in the game.

Pakistan were boosted by the arrival of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik to the middle order, and Ali noted that their experience was a source of calm within the dressing-room.

Pakistan are now looking at keeping their new-found ascendancy on the trip, and are very keen to make it 2-0 in Durban.

That said, the Proteas are on a mission of their own. Hendricks acknowledged that Pakistan are one of the best in the world, but added that SA also have ambitions to be serious contenders at the World Cup later this year.

“There are still a couple of months leading up to the World Cup and I think we’re on the right track. We’ve had a good chat about how to go about things, and as a unit, we’re all buying into it,” Hendricks said of SA’s batting approach.

The criticism for the slow scoring was absorbed by the team, but they have also taken some good energy from the opening match of the series.

“There are a lot of positives to take out of the first ODI, even though the result didn’t go our way,” Hendricks said, pointing to Hashim Amla’s 27th ODI century.

He also explained that the opening pair rely on feel in the middle, as opposed to a pre-conceived plan of attack when they go out to play. Instinct takes over.

“When we go out into the middle, we have to assess conditions up front and bat accordingly. On the day, one guy might feel a bit better than the other guy,” Hendricks said.

On Saturday, Amla was the guy who took it deep. Upon reflection, the Proteas might not allow the visiting spinners a chance to settle as they did in PE.

They went after the slow bowlers in the nets with relish, and it will be no surprise to see the accelerator pressed early at Kingsmead.

Once bitten, twice shy as they say...

* Play at Kingsmead is from 1pm, with coverage on SABC 3 and SuperSport 2.


The Mercury

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