CENTURION – South Africa left batsmen 8,9,10 and 11 to bat 10 overs in the second One-Day International at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
That scenario is marked in the file ‘worst case scenario’ for the Proteas.
It is why there’s been so much made of the No 7 spot being filled by an all-rounder who can bat.
It’s why there’s always very heated debate around braais, in bars and on social media about Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram and JP Duminy.
Less is talked about the composition of the starting team; six front-line batsmen, the all-rounder at No 7 and the four bowlers all wicket-takers, all of whom’s batting is too unreliable.
That quartet can’t be trusted with playing out 10 overs. They barely managed five on Wednesday.
So, do South Africa ask their batsmen to reign themselves in at the start? They tried to do that with Quinton de Kock at the ICC Champions Trophy two years ago, and it proved to be a failure.
De Kock is best left alone – to play it as he sees it – and the benefits of that could be seen on Wednesday in a 113-run victory over Sri Lanka.
He scored 94 off 70 balls, producing a driving exhibition as he smacked 17 fours and a six in 91 minutes of sheer brilliance.
De Kock loves this ground. He now averages 76.5 here in ODIs and if Cricket South Africa could find the money, they would do well to transfer this venue to England in June and July.
In fact, De Kock was a false indicator for what kind of pitch this was. Until his dismissal, he made the surface look like a road.
By the time he was out, it was doing all sorts – stopping on the batsmen, keeping low and there was turn.
FOUR! And that's 50 up for @QuinnyDeKock69! It's his 20th in ODIs, his 2nd vs Sri Lanka and it comes off 36 balls including 12 fours. Strike Rate 147.2 😳🔥🏏🙌— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) March 6, 2019
SA 72/0 after 9 overs. #ProteaFire #SAvSL pic.twitter.com/7X8oUCWreY
That still doesn’t excuse South Africa being 227/6 with 12 overs to go, or the fact they lost their lost six wickets for 31 runs as they were bowled out for 251 in 45.1 overs.
With the exception of Faf du Plessis (57, 66 balls, 7x4) – who along with De Kock is South Africa’s other in-form player across the formats – everyone else performed dismally.
Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen mistimed pulls, Wiaan Mulder – promoted to No 5 – struck four boundaries and was then bowled around his legs by left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando.
David Miller over-balanced and was stumped, and Andile Phehlukwayo, batting at No 7, played a terrible shot against Dhananjaya de Silva’s off-spin and was caught at backward point.
Phehlukwayo’s been in good form for the Dolphins lately in the One-Day Cup, and came into this series having scored three half-centuries.
He’s heeded the message from Du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson, but can expect a stern word from that pair about Wednesday’s dismissal.
The Proteas didn’t use five overs in their innings, a cricketing crime that will demand deep introspection.
It meant a test for the bowling unit, upon who so much will depend at the World Cup. It’s an attack built to take wickets, which it proceeded to do.
Rabada and Lungi Ngidi had a wicket apiece inside the first Power Play, and Anrich Nortje got another with his first ball.
In the air and. GOT HIM! That's 100 ODI wickets for @KagisoRabada25! Take a bow, you beauty! Dickwella is gone for 6. SL 11/1 (2.3 ovs). They need 241 runs to win.#ProteaFire #SAvSL pic.twitter.com/OqBjAXzBOP— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) March 6, 2019
Mulder was used as early as the 12th over, bowling just two overs and conceding 13 runs. It wasn’t a very good trial for a World Cup spot.
Rabada bowled rapidly and finished with 3/43, while Ngidi, Nortje and Tahir finished with two wickets apiece.
The fielding was of a very high standard too, and there was the interesting sight of Dave Miller taking the wicket-keeping gloves late in Sri Lanka’s innings when De Kock went off the field with an injury.
The third ODI will be played in Durban on Sunday.@shockerhess