Cape Town - A
sturdier “bridge”, if you like, between their inconsistent specialist batting
arsenal and dangerous frontline bowling department.
the best course of action, at least in the short term, for South Africa at
Newlands on Wednesday in what has become an effective final of their one-day
international series against Pakistan.
a little unexpectedly registered the most one-sided victory of the four games
thus far on Sunday, romping to an eight-wicket triumph in just the 32nd
over of their innings at the Wanderers ... certainly leaving the home unit, who
have previously revelled in the regular Pink Day experience there, several
shades of blue instead.
There is a
significant risk now that the Proteas, locked at 2-2, will suffer a second home
ODI series reverse in a row to a Subcontinent team, bearing in mind that they
were humiliated by a record 5-1 margin by India last season.
The fragile Bullring
showing by Faf du Plessis’s charges harked a little ominously back to several
games in that galling series, when they suffered a few defeats by similarly
gaping margins to Sunday’s, including successive ones by nine and eight wickets
in the two matches (the second and sixth) that were played at nearby Centurion.
however, is that the latest thumping has come with a World Cup inching ever
winner-takes-all fixture is hardly the worst scenario for both outfits, with
CWC 2019 in mind: it represents a special opportunity for some players in both
camps - especially ones not yet certain of their presences at the global event
- to demonstrate “BMT” in a pressure-cooker environment.
remain well less than structurally settled, in terms of how to strike the best
possible balance between their batting and bowling needs.
on evidence from the Johannesburg near-debacle, some sort of dilution of their
strike potential with the ball may well be required at Newlands, even if it may
seem unpalatable to many, to better fortify their enduringly erratic batting.
veteran, versatile middle-order man JP Duminy not available quite yet as a
crossover figure of reasonable repute, the present Proteas tactic has been to
simply go more glaringly with a “six batsmen, five bowlers” brew.
That is all
well and good when your specialists with the blade can be considered routinely
dominating. But that just isn’t the case with South Africa, frankly, and hasn’t
been for a long time - a situation aggravated by the staggered departure from
the cause of Rilee Rossouw and, especially, AB de Villiers.
were bundled out for a woefully un-Wanderers-like 164 in their latest clash, in
a criminal 41 overs.
A sobering reminder
that they are glaringly lacking in depth through the order came via the fact that
not even a more-than-stabilising third-wicket alliance between stalwarts Hashim
Amla and Du Plessis - it got them to 119 for two in the 26th over -
could provide any kind of platform for a prosperous “second half” onslaught in
regressed quite lamentably, the last eight wickets falling for 45 runs on a
pitch more traditionally renowned for allowing mammoth totals in daytime
conditions, even if Du Plessis protested afterwards that this one was more
receptive to turn than he might have wished.
backdrop, the Proteas (at least with current squad personnel) appear to be
edging back to a situation for the decider where the most agreeable fix is to
pin faith in two bowling-orientated all-rounders in their stubbornly problematic
No 7-8 territory.
would mean losing an out-and-out paceman for the time being, but also give the
tail that vital bit less of a too-fluffy look.
it would ease the almost intolerable burden on the more frontline souls at the
crease to guard against being too adventurous – all too mindful of the
shortcomings frequently at play in what was an altogether more resilient and
productive part of the batting line-up in the Mark Boucher/Shaun Pollock sort
brains trust agree that this is the most logical course of action for Newlands,
then Dwaine Pretorius will return to the side (probably at No 7) after being
inactive since the first ODI in Port Elizabeth - he had been the Proteas’ most
economical bowler - and Andile Phehlukwayo shift down one slot to eight, which
really seems a better station for his instinctively risk-taking brand of stroke-play.
mistake, Phehlukwayo is an exhilarating, agreeably self-motivated general cricketing
package, and still so far away from his prime, but the way he batted (and then
was unnecessarily rashly dismissed) at the Wanderers only served to remind that
if, for example, he was a member of England’s currently No 1-ranked ODI side,
he would be very unlikely to bat anywhere above nine in their depth-laden
batting department - at least at this point in his development.
however they facilitate it, the Proteas have GOT to bat deeper.
people still not see that?
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