Proteas looking to build on confidence following win in PE
Anrich Nortje admitted the spirit in the South African camp has remained strong through all the recent problems on the field but now the players’ belief had been restored after beating Australia in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Nortje wasn’t part of two embarrassing defeat against England the third and final T20 match of that series and then last Friday’s loss to the Australians in the opening game of this current three match series - owing to rest - but like all the bowlers, he’d have been feeling the pressure brought on by the failure of his teammates in those two matches.
Other than delivering a lot of slower balls, South Africa’s bowling had looked confused in the shortest format this season. Bowling coach Charl Langeveldt accused the players of taking the easy option by using ‘change -ups’ when yorkers were clearly the way to go in the second and third matches against England while at the Wanderers last Friday it was the lack of precision and an inability to think on their feet that was alarming.
That change on Sunday. “We had a really chat after arriving in PE (on Saturday) about the plans and how to stick to those plans,” said Nortje. The result of that chat was plain to see. Greater precision, more astute use of the slower balls and the quicks finally landing their yorkers more consistently. Australia were brilliantly shut down in the last five overs scoring just 31 of 43 runs they required in that period despite having eight wickets in hand.
South Africa must draw plenty of inspiration from that effort heading into the Newlands decider on Wednesday.
For both teams, there will be concerns about their respective middle order batsmen. Despite conditions being more difficult in the second half of each of the two innings’ the inability to hit boundaries was concerning.
Fortunately for South Africa, Rassie van der DSussen did just enough in making 37 off 28 balls, but there will be question marks about David Miller, who is yet to make an impact across the five T20 Internationals this summer. He’s done only just enough with doing anything spectacular, - scoring 85 runs off 65 balls across his last five innings - but Wednesday maybe an important opportunity to remind everyone of his prowess. If AB de Villiers is to make a return later this year as is being suggested, he will take over someone’s place and Miller would do well to show it should be him being replaced.
The Australians meanwhile, missing Glenn Maxwell for this serious will continue changing around their middle order. Matthew Wade switched from no.4 at the Wanderers to no.6 at St. George’s Park, with Alex Carey’s prowess against spin supposedly the need for that change.
“Justin (Langer) wants the players to be flexible," said the team’s assistant coach Andrew McDonald. "We're training them to be flexible and most of the time, these guys have batted in all different situations and positions in the order.
"We feel as though we've got that flexibility and probably the two that are locked in are Warner and Finch at the top and I daresay Steve Smith will be unlikely to move.
"But we'll be flexible between four, five and six and I don't think that'd be any different in Cape Town (for the third match of the series), depending on the situation."