Proteas to preserve proud ‘decider’ habit?

2019-01-28 14:24
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)

Cape Town – Now for the good news, following South Africa’s eight-wicket drubbing from Pakistan on Sunday: the Proteas tend to play some of their most compelling cricket when bilateral one-day international series come down to an effective “final”.

They will have to produce a turnaround of some magnitude in the decisive fifth ODI at Newlands on Wednesday, following their Pink Day humiliation in the Bullring which levelled matters at 2-2 against Pakistan.

But recent history does, at least, point to the likelihood that they will be properly switched-on for the key clash, which should at least partly replicate World Cup-type knockout tension at a convenient juncture for both sides.

Certainly the nucleus of the present SA squad have an outstanding reputation for lifting their games in a series-determining ODI: the Proteas have won on all of the last five occasions when series fortunes have come down to the last match.

You have to go back to mid-2015 for the last time they blew a decider: it came in the three-match series in Bangladesh, where they had taken a 1-0 lead but then lost game two and were also blown away by nine wickets in the Chittagong “trophy” match.

Subsequently, though, the Proteas have produced a sequence of often inspiring performances in ODI series deciders.

The most recent was their 40-run victory a few weeks back in the third and last game against Australia in Hobart on November 11, from 1-1: David Miller led the way on that occasional with his savagely-struck, career-best 139 off 108 balls in a total of 320 for five having batted first.

Captain Faf du Plessis had also struck a century after the pair had come together at a shaky 55 for three and utterly transformed the innings (and, ultimately, match).

In 2016/17, the Proteas tackled New Zealand in Auckland with the series in the balance at 2-2 … and again prevailed by a margin containing some breathing space (five wickets, with almost 18 overs to spare).

Even pluckier, however, was the way they stole the five-match home ODI series from under the noses of the England tourists in 2015/16.

The English had romped into a 2-0 lead (Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth) before the Proteas struck back at both Centurion and Johannesburg to tee up a tantalising “showpiece” at the very venue for this Wednesday’s equivalent, Newlands: and South Africa won by five wickets.

Not too long before that, the Proteas had shown similar, encouraging qualities under pressure when they played India in the fifth and last ODI in Mumbai, also from a 2-2 situation.

Powered by centuries from all of Du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock, they plundered a record 438 for four and went on to earn a crushing 214-run triumph for their maiden series conquest in India.

In the spring of 2015, the Proteas had also beaten the New Zealand visitors 2-1 in a short series from 1-1 – just further evidence of South Africa rising to the occasion in bilateral deciders.

So they will be hunting a six-in-a-row feat on that front against the Pakistanis on Wednesday.

*A more tempering statistic is that Newlands has been less kind to South Africa for general ODI wins since a purple patch between 2004 and 2009, when the Proteas won 10 on the trot at the venue.

More recently, SA have won only three of their last six ODIs at the famous ground.   

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  faf du plessis  |  cricket


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