Walking out to the middle at the Wanderers on Thursday, JP Duminy would’ve been feeling the pressure.
Despite a solid start of over 100 by the Cape Cobras to their innings against the Highveld Lions, Duminy needed to play a significant knock – not only for the team, but for his immediate future as well.
The entire cricketing fraternity’s eyes would’ve been on the classy left-hander, as they needed to see if he was still up for the fight for a spot in the Proteas’ World Cup squad.
The 34-year-old is facing serious competition for one of the middle-order – or all-rounder – berths from the likes of Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo, following his lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a shoulder injury.
And the fact that he got a second-ball duck against the Titans at Newlands last Friday – with a leg-side strangle – wouldn’t have helped matters.
Duminy started cautiously on Thursday, keeping the ball out and eventually getting off the mark with his sixth delivery.
The tension appeared to be building, though, and a few overs later, Duminy decided to do something about it – he worked Aaron Phangiso over mid-off, and in the same 24th over, he really got going.
He skipped down the pitch to whip Phangiso for six over midwicket, and followed it up with a sweep for four down to fine leg.
That’s what Duminy needed to find his rhythm, and he went on to play a typically stylish knock, reaching his half-century in the process.
#LIOvCOB | THE PARTNERSHIP GROWS— COBRAS CRICKET (@CobrasCricket) March 7, 2019
JP Duminy (46*) and Pieter Malan (85*) have extended their partnership to an unbeaten 88 off just 87 balls
Cobras 190/2 after 35 overs#MODC #StrengthInDiversity pic.twitter.com/0qJtO9echQ
He then produced the shot of the innings – a full-blown cover drive for six off fellow Proteas contender Pretorius, signifying that he means business when it comes to making the World Cup squad.
Duminy’s dismissal was rather anti-climactic as he pushed for a second run that was never on off Phangiso, and Ryan Rickelton pulled off a direct hit to send the batsman on his way for 62 off 64 balls, including three fours and two sixes.
He will look to make an impression with the ball as well with his off-spinners during the Lions innings.
It wasn’t quite the hundred that he would’ve wanted, but Duminy certainly reminded Proteas coach Ottis Gibson and selection convenor Linda Zondi that he wants to be on the plane to the UK in May.
Duminy will be in action again for the Cobras on Saturday, when they face the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg, where after he is set to rejoin the national side for the last two ODIs against Sri Lanka.
* The Cape Cobras finished on 281/9 off their 50 overs against the Highveld Lions, with Pieter Malan top-scoring with 102.@ashfakmohamed