Proteas must execute better and do so consistently to get much needed wins
JOHANNESBURG – Can South Africa string together a performance of high quality consistently, over a few hours, and get themselves a win? Oh, and can they then repeat that three more times this week?
It is infuriating watching this Proteas limited overs side right now precisely because there seems to be a lot of potential, but with that, the threat of some self-induced disaster is always imminent.
It is the nature of teams like this current Proteas group; inexperienced, constantly changing and trying to adopt and implement a style that might provide them success in a tournament.
Whereas last year’s T20 series against England made clear a distinct gap between the Proteas and one of the best limited overs teams in the world, the matches against Pakistan – both in Lahore in February and on Saturday at the Wanderers – showed a Proteas team that could compete – but only fleetingly.
It’s worth remembering this is a side shorn of its best players; the Indian Premier League has a majority of them, while injury has sidelined, new captain Temba Bavuma and the most consistent batsman, Rassie van der Dussen.
Saturday’s starting XI, featured three debutants, another squad member, Migael Pretorius, hasn’t played international cricket, Heinrich Klaasen is a stand-in captain, and throughout the squad just two players; Tabraiz Shamsi (29) and Andile Phehlukwayo (31) have played more the 20 T20 Internationals.
“We are being forced to experiment (with selection),” said Klaasen after Saturday’s four wicket defeat. Earlier he’d deflected a question about the in-form Kyle Verreynne’s absence from the starting side for the first T20 International against Pakistan, by saying he wasn’t a selector.
It did seem a strange choice not to include Verreynne on Saturday, perhaps space can be found for him in the line-up for Monday’s second match.
What South Africa badly needs is to start executing game plans on a more consistent basis. There were elements of the positive brand everyone’s talked about so often, especially with the bat. South Africa had set up the innings beautifully, batting at 10 an over for the first 14 overs, making a total of 220 a distinct possibility.
Klaasen bemoaned his and Pite van Biljon’s dismissals as reasons for South Africa failing to kick on in the last six overs. “We were set, it was our job to go to the end,” he remarked.
Pakistan’s ‘death’ bowling was excellent allowing South Africa just 48 runs in the last six overs, with the hosts hitting just three boundaries in that period.
By contrast South Africa were appalling when defending the same period later. Pakistan, with Mohammad Rizwan to the fore, smashed 71 runs in the last six overs, with 11 boundaries, as the Proteas regularly - and by large margins - missed their ‘yorkers.’
“It’s the right game plan,” said Klaasen, “it’s about fine tuning and executing.”
And after that it’s about doing so consistently, from over to over and match to match, starting with Monday’s second game at the Wanderers. Play starts at 2.30pm.
South Africa: Heinrich Klaasen (capt), Bjorn Fortuin, Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Rassie van der Dussen, Janneman Malan, Sisanda Magala, Wiaan Mulder, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Kyle Verreynne, Pite van Biljon, Daryn Dupavillon, Migael Pretorius, Lizaad Williams, Wihan Lubbe.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Arshad Iqbal, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Usman Qadir.