Johannesburg - Proteas captain, Farhaan Behardien, admits that the batsmen struggled to adapt to the slow and spinning conditions in their three-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in the second T20 International at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Behardien (27) and opener, Heino Kuhn (29), were the only batsmen to make meaningful contributions in challenging conditions and against a three-pronged spin attack, but the lack of a substantial partnership and wickets falling at regular intervals stunted the push for a defendable score.
The Proteas’ total of 113 all out was their lowest T20 score at the ground, with the uncharacteristic conditions playing into the hands of the visitors’ attack.
“We didn’t assess quickly enough,” he admitted after the match. “We thought we did but the nature of the wicket brought the Sri Lankan spinners into the game. Noticeably their left-arm chinaman, who was the star for them today and picked up wickets on a regular basis. It stunted our momentum going forward, we lost wickets at crucial moments and couldn’t build any partnerships, which are crucial on a slow wicket, it’s difficult for the new batters coming in.”
Behardien is proud of his bowlers for taking the low-scoring match to the last over, particularly the contribution from Lungi Ngidi, who continues to impress in only his second T20 international match for South Africa.
Ngidi countered the spin-friendly conditions with aggression and pace to finish with outstanding figures of 4/19 in his four-over spell.
“I think a superstar has been born,” he said of the 20-year-old. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, he is only 20, but if he keeps his feet on the ground he will have a long career. He bowled out of his skin with good pace and bounce. Even on a slowish wicket he got the breakthroughs for us that we needed. He got three wickets in his first few overs and a breakthrough in his fourth over, he was somebody that we could turn to to strike, I’m really pleased for him.”
The squad will travel to Cape Town on Monday ahead of the series-deciding third T20 International at Newlands on Wednesday. AB de Villiers passed a fitness test on Sunday and has been added to the squad for the third match.