Proteas Injured in ODI Series, Literally

A look at where South Africa and India stand in the current ODI series two matches in.

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MATCH ONE: THURSDAY, 1st FEBRUARY 2018

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A commanding victory with India in complete control throughout.  Image from: indianexpress.com

The hype had been brought up by fans. Could the starting eleven for each game bring in an idea as to what team Cricket South Africa selectors could go with in the World Cup next year (provided no players take the dreaded Kolpak deal out of nowhere)? Personally, I was looking forward to this series, not only did I manage to get my Pink Day tickets early, but I could start looking forward to picking my dream eleven for the World Cup in England I am breaking my back to save up for… and I genuinely enjoy ODIs a lot.

South Africa won the toss and bat first in Kingsmead: a ground in which many believe should no longer host cricket matches. I won’t give my opinion on that anytime soon. Major loss to the Proteas is losing AB to an injured finger, therefore having him sit out for the first three games of the series. Although, it’s not injured enough that he can play golf… moving on.

The hosts’ top six gave the same problems of not scoring enough runs to have the lower order worry if the next number of runs is crucial enough to win the match. We had Morris and Phehlukwayo contributing more of a partnership as well as runs than de Kock did. At the end of SA’s batting innings, a decent 269-8 was made thanks to Faf’s 120. India needed 270 to draw first blood in the series.

The men in blue managed to chase the total relatively easily with five overs to spare and six wickets in hand after Phehlukwayo took two wickets of Kohli (112) and Rahane (79). It was not enough to fix the damage that was South Africa’s under-par bowling and less than impressive bowling. Kohli took win him a man of the match century which boosted his team 1-0 in the six match.

India needs to win the series 4-2 or better to overtake the Proteas in rankings to become number one.

 

MATCH TWO: SUNDAY, 4th FEBRUARY 2018

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Caught out! South Africa’s top six failed to get a start to result to produce a comeback win. Image from: hindustantimes.com

More bad news strikes the Proteas camp, with Captain Faf being ruled out for the remainder of the India tour because of an injured finger. While some Indian fans were rejoicing at this news, it made me say to myself: if they are rejoicing so much for Faf and AB’s injuries, it shows how much faith they have in their own side in these conditions. That thought quickly went out of my mind the minute this match ended.

Aiden Markram, whom has some experience captaining a national squad, was boldly placed as interim captain for the rest of the ODI series. Heinrich Klaasen, Khaya Zondo and Farhaan Behardien were called up into the squad should anymore injuries occur. Two changes were made to the eleven, with Zondo as well as Tabraiz Shamsi for Faf and Phehlukwayo.

India had won the toss, and opted to bowl first. If there is any evidence that the Proteas struggle with even the slightest hint of spin, this match would have be the perfect case study in any textbook. Silly shots were played all around, but also credit should go to the Indian bowlers for producing some movement in a pitch that is not notorious for a lot of spin. It managed to make the SA batters’ heads spin, which lead to the oh-so-predictable collapse of the Proteas seeing them at 107-6 in the 28th over. The top six had failed again. Miller had failed to get a good score again. He may average 50 in limited over games, but right when his team needed him to step up as ‘Killer Miller’ he failed to make it his time. 118 was the total scored before South Africa were bowled out, with five wickets going to Yuzvendra Chahal. A bizarre call had been made by the match referee to call lunch when India needed two more runs to win. One more thing that showed how fed up Proteas fans are with inconsistent performances could also be how fans left the stadium, and how many remained to watch the last two runs to be scored. India managed to steamroll the hosts, chasing down 119 with ease and only losing one wicket.

Currently sitting 2-0 in the series, India will be sitting pretty for the next game tomorrow (Wednesday 7 February at 1pm local time). South Africa will be wondering what went wrong within the team and what can be done in terms of having the right combinations. They will be missing de Kock due to wrist injury, meaning Klaasen will definitely play. To keep Miller in the eleven and not put Behardien in the mix will be a decision on blind faith in that the teams needs to bounce back in order to win the series and retain the number one ranking. Is this really our best effort with the bat and ball? If so, we could crash out of the World Cup next year before knock-out rounds even start. This lacklustre performance should be a wake-up call to everyone in the Proteas set up. Stop blaming the pitches, control the controllables. If you want to be world class, you must learn to adapt, adapt quickly.

 

Giddy Ngidi Gets Six on Debut

It definitely is a bowling partnership that Protea fans can witness for a long time – hoping that injuries stay away and consistency stays.

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An impressive start into test cricket for debutant Lungi Ngidi as he got a six-for, ending the match on 7-90. Image: hindustantimes.com

Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada lit up the fans of the Proteas with the scorecard come the end of the second innings, as they were involved in taking the last ten wickets South Africa needed to take an unassailable 2-0 lead into the test series. Many would have hoped that the wicket of Centurion would have been a traditional fast bowlers’ paradise; what was prepared was something not totally unplayable, but suited maybe for the spinners. Some would say it was suited more for the Indian batsmen more than the Proteas.

Not much to can be said about the second match. I personally found it to be lacking in the intensity that was shown in the first game. Still a very interesting one to watch, but the intent that India wanted to show may have backfired against them.

As the toss occurred, news had been that Faf requested his men to bat first as well as have Ngidi debut at his home ground in Centurion. South Africa made 335 all out, with Aiden Markram top scoring with 94 before being caught out. Hashim Amla scored second highest with 82 but was then run out. After AB had gone out, Faf was left to watch two of his batting partners (de Kock and Philander) fall cheaply before the end of day one. Day two started with Faf and Maharaj playing to make a good enough score, with massive help from the lower order to keep the tail wagging slightly to make a semi-decent 335.

With India batting just after lunch, they had been going steadily until Morkel took a great catch off his own bowling. Minutes later, a second had fallen as the debutant Ngidi had run Pujara out for a golden duck, leaving India on 28-2. Captain Kohli had to come and make a decent partnership with opener Vijay to put pressure on the hosts. Vijay fell just before the two reached an 80-run partnership. India had ended their batting innings on day three in the session after lunch, with Kohli putting in a magnificent captain’s knock of 153 runs.

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Intent and aggression was showed when Virat Kohli made 153 in the first innings. Image: kyrosports.com

SA were to start their second innings with a 28-run lead, and had all sorts of trouble losing two early wickets of Amla and Markram, needing Elgar and AB to rescue the batting with a decent partnership. Stumps was called early on day three due to heavy rains and bad lighting.

Day four started as day three had ended, with SA increasing their lead at a tenacious rate, with runs being scored as a snail high on sleeping tablets. The pitch was going more and more in favour of the bowlers, but not being particularly impossible to play on as the Proteas had made 287 all out, with AB scoring an important 84. The South African bowlers had a day and a session to take ten wickets and defend 287 runs for the series win.

The last innings in which India needed to bat to level the series proved to be quite the interesting one, as the battle between bat and ball had started as an intense one, until Rabada and Ngidi started making inroads within the last session of day four: Rabada had bowled Vijay for 9, and Ngidi getting KL Rahul caught for four. Ngidi had been slightly unlucky in getting the wicket of Captain Kohli in the first innings, but definitely had a delivery that had his name on it. The big wicket of Kohli was Ngidi’s for the taking, and was trapped plumb lbw for 5. Indeed a wicket he will remember for a long time. Stumps had been called on day 4, with South Africa needing seven more wickets and India needing 252 more runs for victory.

Many would say that day five was definitely in South Africa’s court after getting Kohli out. True, but they still had to get the wickets of Pujara, Pandya and Ravi Ashwin who boasts relatively good averages with the bat. Ngidi and Rabada kept chipping away at the wickets in good fashion to keep India out of the game for sure. Speaking on run outs, from both teams in both innings, there had been a total of five run outs. Of those five run outs, two had gone to Pujara, as he was run out for 19 in the second innings attempting to run three.

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South Africa will be hoping to keep up the momentum when they arrive for the final clash at the Bull Ring this Wednesday. Image: cricketaddictor.com

The man of the match went to Lungi Ngidi, making him the seventh Protea to be given this award on debut. The last match in the test series is to take place at the Wanderers on Wednesday the 24th of January.

My play of the match most definitely went to the two quicks in Rabada and Ngidi taking nine of ten of the wickets to win the match and series for South Africa. It definitely is a bowling partnership that Protea fans can witness for a long time – hoping that injuries stay away and consistency stays. Now the SA selectors have to look at the type of wicket at the Bull Ring and consider the eleven to go into that match to hopefully clinch a whitewash. Will they still make do with four fast bowlers, or bring in de Bruyn and/or in place of a quick?  Or will Maharaj be dropped? Will Markram be available for the last test? He missed fielding in the last innings after sustaining a quad strain. The starting eleven may change for the last game, but hopefully nothing too drastic in that they would want to keep their ruthless mentally and go for the whitewash.

Newlands Test Tug-O-War, Proteas Victorious

This was definitely a test match to be remembered had the result gone either way. It was a match in which the bowlers from both teams performed magnificently.

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Philander took a career best 6-42 to bowl the Proteas to victory. Image: cricketaddictor.com

A series that Indian and South African fans had been waiting for finally has started; and what a test match it was. Having high expectations for the series, this test definitely showed that cricket fans are definitely in for a treat. It is the first match of the tour, and it has already had more action than the whole Ashes series.

The build up going into the game had Cricket South Africa and the ground staff at Newlands making sure that there was a substantial amount of green on the wicket: this being for the hope that the Proteas starting line up would have the four-pronged pace attack of Steyn, Rabada, Morkel, and Philander. With the dreadful drought in Cape Town at the moment, rain dances would have been performed before the match in hope of getting some green on the wicket.

The biggest shock may have been Faf’s decision to bat first at the toss, especially looking back at how much emphasis had been placed on the pitch and how it would work in favour of the South African bowlers. Most would have jumped at the opportunity to bowl first.

With the Proteas batting first, they had seen themselves batting with caution due to Elgar, Markram and Amla’s wickets falling to have the scorecard at 12-3. AB and Faf put on a helpful partnership which saw them both achieve their half centuries. Eventually the batsmen managed to put 286 runs on the board before being bowled out. It was time to see the bowlers put in their magic in the field.

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Hardik Pandya was the pick of the Indian players for his 94 runs and 3 wickets in the first match. Image: timesofindia.com

India found themselves at 92-7, before being rescued by Pandya and Kumar putting on a very handy 99-run partnership to bring India to 209 before being bowled out. This gave Faf’s men a lead of 77 that could have been more.

Starting the second innings was a rocky one for South Africa, losing two quick wickets to Pandya just before stumps on day two. Day three was washed out, which was a much needed downpour (even though some people said the rain was being a pain).

Day four started with Amla and night-watchman Rabada at the crease on 59-2. Wickets falling quickly saw the Proteas on 130-9, before AB was caught at the boundary rope trying to go for a maximum. The fight back needed by SA pacers was always going to be a tough ask as they were a bowler short (Steyn ruled out of the test series for four-six weeks due to a bruised heel) and only having to defend 208 runs.

Wickets were falling coming at a smooth rate thanks to Morkel and Philander, leaving India three wickets down with 39 on the board when Indian captain Virat Kohli came on to bring the victory to his camp. A partnership worth a meagre but worrying 32 came to an end when Philander bowled Captain Kohli out for 28. Elation was shown from the Proteas and supporters knowing how important his wicket was. Sharma was offered a lifeline when Maharaj dropped a sitter off his bat, only to chop a delivery off Philander onto his stumps. The Indian star of the first innings in Pandya had hopes to replicate his 93 to bring India back into the game. He was caught by AB for 1 an over after Sharma’s dismissal.

A partnership of 49 between Ashwin and Kumar kept the Indian tail wagging, before Philander starred again, breaking their partnership at 49 and claiming Ashwin’s wicket. The last two wickets were picked up in the 42nd over, giving Philander a career best of 6-42.

South Africa won by 72 runs, bowling out the visitors for 135 runs. They are now 1-0 up in the three-match series. This was definitely a test match to be remembered had the result gone either way. It was a match in which the bowlers from both teams performed magnificently. My own gripe with the match is how the Protea bowlers could have wrapped up the innings a lot quicker than they did, for they let the tail wag a little more than they should have. Now what will be discussed is who will replace Dale Steyn in the squad. Go with an all-rounder? Bring back Temba Bavuma or Theunis de Bruyn? Or will they bring in an out-and-out pacer in Lungi Ngidi?

It’s Only All About the Champions Trophy

If you thought that the choker tag was haunting the Proteas after the first game, then you are dead wrong.

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The new number one ODI bowler, Kagiso Rabada, celebrating the early wicket of Jason Roy in what soon would be a colossal collapse. Image from: ©Getty Images

Just a general wrap up of the series:

Much to the contrasting result for South Africa, it was quite an interesting one.

The first ODI was won quite convincingly by the hosts for 72 runs, with Captain Morgan scoring 107 and Moeen Ali scoring a blitz 77 to propel England to 339 runs. South Africa could not keep the momentum going with their batting, as wickets were falling in quick succession, giving Chris Woaks 4-38 after eight overs. Amla and du Plessis did manage to put up a 112-run partnership, but it was no use as a collapse ensued after they went out. The visitors were bowled out for 267 with Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis being the top scorers with 73 and 67 respectively. This match just seemed like the Proteas were not in it, with Kagiso Rabada bowling 3 no-balls, and being a tad expensive. Cricket fans who love to hate South Africa were sitting at the edge of their seat, going blue in the face, getting ready to scream the dreaded “chokers” tag on any social networking site they could, but they had to hold out for the next game to see the outcome of that one.

Ah, the second ODI that occurred three days later. If you thought that the choker tag was haunting the Proteas after the first game, then you are dead wrong. This second ODI had most South African fans on the edge of their seat come the last ten balls of their batting innings. The English had, again, put up a score well over 300 – 330 to be exact. With the ball, the Proteas were quite expensive, with Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris going for 74 and 66 respectively. The fielding was just as reckless, with a few catches being out down: Ben Stokes was dropped twice. A tough ask for South Africa, no doubt, but all that was needed for the chase to be successful was for a collapse like in the previous game to not happen again, and to not lose wicket early. Amla and de Kock managed put up a 50-run opening partnership, when Amla’s wicket fell after scoring 26, and AB and de Kock put up 96 more runs together. Maybe I can speak for everyone when I say that many people knew England was going to lose by the way Morris and Miller were batting. The two explosive batsmen put up 62 runs (could have been 4 more, but…) for the 6th wicket, with Miller ending on 71 not out. I explicitly remember hearing the commentator say that this was now our game to lose, and agreeing with him, as South Africa needed a run a ball to win and level the series. England’s bowling in the last over was tight, a wide was bowled but was not called, and Wood had managed to concede no more than four runs. England had taken an unassailable lead in the series, leaving the last game as a dead rubber. Remember the cricket trolls I spoke about earlier? They were having a field day on Twitter and Facebook.

Then came the third ODI. Dead rubber. To some, not important. To South Africa, a quest for pride and confidence going into the Champions Trophy. Fantastic bowling by Rabada and Parnell had England frowning and reeling at 20-6 after 5 overs into the game: the worst ODI starting total for any team. Johnny Bairstow, alongside debutant Toby Roland-Jones, managed to hold anchor to propel the hosts to 153 all-out. An easy chase for South Africa on a grassy pitch which was apparently not good enough for Eoin Morgan and his troops as he stated in a press-conference after the series. South Africa won the final match by 7 wickets; with Rabada taking man-of-the-match for his terrific bowling spell of 4-39. Cricket trolls, you ask? Still going nuts on South Africa not managing to win the second ODI.

An overall good series to watch, as we saw England’s complacency get the better of them in the final game, and South Africa’s selectors, some sports journos, players, and wonderful coach Russell Domingo not really regarding this series as important by constantly referring to this series as a warm up. Not really what it was stated as on the itinerary, but okay. South Africa have got to get their combinations right before their first match on Saturday 3rd June against Sri Lanka in their opening game of the apparently more important Champions Trophy tournament. Rabada was the only bowler in the SA squad to show promise as a wicket-taker in the series, but who will partner him in opening the bowling? Parnell? Morris? Morkel? Is Morkel even bowling well enough to not break down during an innings in a match this tournament? I guess what I’m asking is, is Morkel going to be completely match fit for the whole tournament?

My predicting starting XI for the tournament will look a little like this, pitch dependent of course. No need to really bat down the order, so I will not suggest any more than two all-rounders in the squad. That’s what the top six is for.

  1. de Kock (wk)
  2. Amla
  3. du Plessis
  4. de Villiers (Capt.)
  5. Duminy (I detest him too, but a spin option maybe)
  6. Miller (not one of my favourites, but he can be a deadly run-scorer when necessary)
  7. Morris
  8. Phehlukwayo/Parnell (if absolutely necessary)
  9. Rabada
  10. Morkel (provided he is indeed match-fit, he will be a very big help to Rabada in the opening overs)
  11. Tahir

 

A hearty congratulations to the England team for winning the series 2-1 over South Africa. As well as a big congratulations to Kagiso Rabada for moving up to the number one ODI bowler in the world, overtaking Imran Tahir, who is now in the second spot. The top three ODIs bowlers are now Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, and Mitchell Starc of Australia.

World Cup Memories Destroyed?

 

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South Africa have now retained their number 1 ODI ranking. Image from http://www.icc-cricket.com

I had tweeted earlier after the first ODI match against New Zealand that they were going to be plenty of heart attacks during the series. That happened three times in this series: in the first which had SA win with a ball to spare, in the second and in the fourth ODI. One was a close victory, the other was a one-man show of pure master-class batting for the Kiwis. Now that the ODI series is done and dusted, we are all still coping from what was a thriller of a series, I’m going to go through each South African player that played during the series, favourite moment of each in the series, and something that disappointed me.

 

ANDILE PHEHLUKWAYO (4 matches. 4 wickets. Economy of 5.26)

Not a bad series from Phehlukwayo. He had a bit of a rocky start coming back from injury in the T20 series against Sri Lanka, but throughout that ODI series and this one, there has been a major gain in form. Keeping things to just under five runs an over against a formidable New Zealand batting line is a good sign for him carrying on in the Proteas squad.

Highlight? His quick 29 not out in the first ODI to win the game for the Proteas. He showed massive amounts of calmness in a pressure situation, with two sixes that took the game away from New Zealand. Disappointed moment? He had the chance to win the second ODI in a similar fashion to the first, but bunting dot-balls in the final over instead of rotating the strike proved costly for the Proteas. Overall score: 7/10

DAVID MILLER (4 matches. 77 runs. Average of 25.66)

Many middle order wobbles happened for the Proteas in this series, where big-hitter Miller could have saved a sinking middle order at times and prevented quick wickets from falling. Already, I am not a fan of Miller’s inconsistencies in matches at all: they happen once too often. By that not happening, you would have had to rely on near tail-enders to save the innings (if AB was not out either).

Highlight? His 45 not out in the 5th ODI to bring home another series win and retain the number 1 ODI ranking for the Proteas. Disappointed moment? His dismal scores in the first three matches he played, which did not contribute almost any runs to the total on the board. Overall score: 4/10

QUINTON DE KOCK (5 matches. 200 runs. Average of 40.00)

Quite a good series for the young de Kock, as he obtained three half centuries in the first three ODIs, which was a backbone for the rest of the batsmen to add more runs to the total. Unfortunate that he went out for single-digit scores in the last two matches. And unfortunate that he could not convert his half-centuries into centuries.

Highlight? His 69 in the first ODI which got him to win man of the match when middle-order batsmen (JP Duminy, Miller, and Farhaan Behardien) could not occupy the crease long enough to gain the necessary number of runs to win to not let tail-enders kill the game off. Disappointed moment? The rare sighting of de Kock going out for a golden duck. Pretty unfortunate stuff, but his tendency to go out on soft dismissals will be a problem going towards England, and the Champions Trophy, if not looked into soon. Overall score: 7/10.

JP DUMINY (5 matches. 79 runs. Average of 15.80)

A lot of people have asked exactly what is Duminy’s role in the squad. My response is “a quick fielder”. His batting has been poorly since the series, with slight exception of his 34 in the second ODI. His bowling has also been costly, going for almost 10 in an over. His number 5 spot in the starting eleven is going to slip from him soon if he does not regain for as soon as possible: constant middle-order collapses are going to hurt the Proteas going into the Champions Trophy.

Highlight? Honestly, none. His couple of direct hit run-outs are great, but nothing to really write home about if you are not contributing with the bat. Disappointed moment? His cheap dismissals throughout the series. Overall score: 3/10.

WAYNE PARNELL (3 matches. 3 wickets. Economy of 5.47. 64 runs at an average of 21.33.)

He was benched a couple of matches Phehlukwayo and Rabada. Not too bad of a bowler this series, but his problem is that after one great game, he will become very inconsistent in the next game, conceding well over 30 runs in one innings. His tendency to leak runs could hinder his place going to England for the ODI series there or even the Champions Trophy. Did okay with the bat in hand, however it was a pity that his and AB’s 63 run partnership went in vain when New Zealand won that game.

Highlight? Not many come to mind, but the one that does come to mind is his partnering with AB in the fourth match as mentioned above. Some shots that many have wanted to see from Parnell were seen in that game. If he can bat like that all the time, that would be helpful to lessen the pressure on top-order batsmen. Disappointed moment? His inconsistent moments with the ball in leaking runs, but maybe going out for a duck in the second ODI even though we lost. Overall score: 5/10.

KAGISO RABADA (4 matches. 8 wickets. Average of 4.22)

What more can you say about Rabada? He’s a freak at the age of 21. He’s been fantastic the entire series, being the leading wicket-taker, and it is also great to know that even when he doesn’t play, the other bowlers will still take wickets and win games. However, everyone’s greatest concern is why he did not play in the third ODI: a knee niggle. Rabada could be getting overworked slowly but surely with the amount of cricket he’s played. What brings in more concern is that he’s going to IPL later in April after being sold to the Delhi Daredevils for R9.8 million. But he’s stated in a press conference that he’s in knowledge of how he feels, and we can’t dispute him on that.

Highlight? Bowling out Martin Guptill in the 5th ODI for 4 runs. It was indeed a corker of a yorker (see what I did there?) which was what South Africa needed to crack the game wide open. Disappointed moment? Only not having that speed of bowling he’s known for in the 4th ODI, but that could have been because he was coming back from recovering from his knee niggle. Overall score: 8/10.

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One all-rounder to definitely look out for: Dwaine Pretorius. Image from cricinfo.com

DWAINE PRETORIUS (4 matches. 5 wickets at an average of 4.34. 71 runs at an average of 23.66)

Pretorius has that potential of being the complete all-rounder alongside Phehlukwayo  in the long run if he were to get more chances. His best bowling figures in the series is 3 wickets for 5 runs is absolutely incredible, as well as that average of around 4 runs an over, and should be kept in mind for future team selections. He will be a real asset to the team if he keeps this form up for the Champions Trophy or the England tour.

Highlight? His clinical bowling performance in the third ODI in what was a wicket fest for all Proteas bowlers. In that game, he had an economy rate of 0.66. Disappointed moment? I think he was rather unlucky to not get a wicket in the forth ODI, but his bowling was a little bit off than the previous game. I would have liked him to get more runs in the third game as well to back up a fantastic display of an all-rounder. If anything, Pretorius will get better in time. Overall score: 7/10.

HASHIM AMLA (100 runs. Average of 20.00)

Unfortunately not a great series by Amla his time, as his average is quite low and he went out by very soft dismissals throughout the series. I, by no means, think he should be dropped. He is an integral part of opening the innings with de Kock and the two work fantastically together. I absolutely loved what Rabada had to say to journalists that asked about Amla’s recent form slump. He said “Amla is not a robot. He knows what he needs to do and what he needs to improve on in order to get better. He’s not going to be perfect all the time”. Personally, I think that quote sums up any doubt of his form, as he knows what he needs to do.

Highlight? Not really many again, but maybe his 40-run contribution in the fourth game with added to a defendable (but not defended) total of 279. It was the first innings in the series where he was quite close to converting it to a half century. Disappointed moment? Similar to de Kock, there were just too many soft dismissals. The softest dismissal seen was in the fifth ODI when he hit the ball right into the hands of Mitchell Santner at cover. He looked on song to get a high total in that game. Overall score: 5/10.

FAF DU PLESSIS (5 matches. 179 runs at an average of 44.75)

Luckily for disgruntled Faf fans who want him to have the captaincy of all three formats, he will be captaining the test side against the Kiwis from the 7th of March. His batting this series was one that more consistent, with him getting two scores over 50. His 51 in the fifth ODI steered SA on course to victory with soft dismissals, excluding AB, happening around him. He is becoming one of the greats slowly but surely.

Highlight? His crucial half-century in the fifth ODI as mentioned above. Disappointed moment? A dropped catch of Martin Guptill in the fourth ODI in what would have been a fantastic catch by him which would, maybe, have given the Proteas a chance at victory. Overall score: 7/10.

IMRAN TAHIR (5 matches. 6 wickets. Economy rate of 4.78)

Not a dire series for Tahir. He was unlucky to not get more wickets against the Kiwis, but still a near squeaky clean economy rate. His best figures of 2-14 was quite a highlight. Not much to say, other than that he a fantastic bowler and has a fighting shot at winning matches for South Africa in the Champions Trophy.

Highlight? Apart from his celebrations that have him running more than his run-up, his bowling throughout the series has been absolutely brilliant. He was the second highest wicket taker, two short of Rabada’s eight. Disappointed moments? If you can think of any, do tweet me and let me know: I couldn’t really point anything out. Overall score: 7/10.

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A testing series win for the Proteas after whitewashing Sri Lanka. Image from cricketcountry.com

CHRIS MORRIS (4 matches. 5 wickets at an average of 5.94. 51 runs at an average of 17.00)

Started the series quite well with the ball in hand, as he even managed to get four wickets in the rain-reduced first ODI. However, a horrid display of death-bowling saw his economy rate go up, and 25 runs in the last over of the game being gained by two tail-end batsmen. After that game, Morris has been similar to Parnell in slight inconsistency and leaking runs where it can be controlled. His batting has been in an almost T20-style aggression. Whether he is trying to repeat his heroics of Pink Day in South Africa against the English in early 2016 could be a factor, but he is still a good batsman to have when the top order fails to contribute runs.

Highlight? His bowling figures of 4-62 in the first game was almost a deciding factor as to who would win that match. Disappointed moment? As mentioned above, his disappointing death bowling in the first ODI as he managed to concede more runs towards the backend of the innings instead of cleaning up the tail. Overall score: 6/10.

AB DE VILLIERS (5 matches. 262 runs at an average of 87.33)

The leading run-scorer in the series, winning captain in three matches, it was just a great series for de Villiers. He has batted his team out of trouble most of the time, including his 85 in the third ODI where South Africa thumped the Kiwis by 159 runs, thanks to fantastic bowling. He has also become the fastest batsmen to 9000 runs as he reached it in 208 innings. However, the number of times he had to pull the Proteas out of trouble is concerning, considering he’s pulled out the test series that starts soon. Will he be terribly missed there?

Highlight? His fantastic sixes all around the park, and his 85 in the third ODI were great, but the biggest highlight may have been when the DJ at the stadium in Seddon Park, Hamilton decided to play AB’s song Maak Jou Dromme Waar. Not a personal favourite for me, but quite hilarious to witness. Disappointed moment? It was an unfortunate way to get out the way he did in the decider: the ball brushing past his glove and it carrying through to New Zealand keeper, Luke Ronchi. Coincidentally, Ronchi went out in a similar fashion to AB off of Morris’s bowling.

A testing ODI series for the Proteas indeed. Now we commence onward to the Test series where South Africa make their quest to regaining the number one test squad in rankings.

Rain on the Proteas Side… only just!

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Man of the Match: Quinton de Kock, for his 69 off 64 balls. Image from ©Getty Images

 

This is just a short match analysis, seeing as time zones are a little bit hazy currently as South Africa is about eleven hours behind New Zealand in time zones.

South African captain, AB de Villiers, won the toss and chose to bowl first. The team consisted of Amla, de Kock, du Plessis, de Villiers, Duminy, Behardien, Morris, Phehlukwayo, Rabada, Shamsi and Tahir. Only one change to the squad from Friday’s only T20 which ended in a victory for South Africa by 78 runs. Kane Williamson’s team had some changes, in Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, and Tom Latham with keeping the wicket.

The match had been reduced to 34 overs due to a rain delay that occurred earlier on in the day. New Zealand were in the third over when Tom Latham was trapped lbw off Morris, leaving the hosts at 19-1. Brownlie went out a couple of overs later, with Captain Kane on the crease to grind out the innings with Taylor… or so he thought, because he went out in the same over for 1. Neil Broom also came and went on the crease for 1 run off Morris, caught by Behardien. Williamson had hit a magnificent half-century while batting with Neesham to put another 26 runs on the board. Williamson was later bowled for 59 off Shamsi. Mitchell Santner came on and contributed 17 more runs, but was caught behind off Rabada. After a good bowling and fielding performance by South Africa, Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme put up a 50-run partnership towards to end of the innings, which in turn had New Zealand ending with 207-7. Should be more or less easy to chase, right?

The start of the South African innings went more or less according to plan, Amla and de Kock putting up 88 runs for the first wicket partnership. Amla was unfortunately bowled and caught by Captain Kane for 35, and he looked on song for a decent half century. Speaking of half-centuries, de Kock played a great innings to reach his 10th ODI 50 off 47 balls, but was later dismissed off Trent Boult for 69. De Villiers was next, and overdue for a captain’s knock. A mini collapse ensued when Duminy came onto the crease before du Plessis was trapped lbw off Sodhi for 14 runs. Duminy, however only managed to score one run and Southee had caught a wicket off his own delivery. Fan-favourite, Behardien, came next to try salvage the innings and silence his critics. He was clean bowled off Southee for a golden duck and Southee was now on a hat-trick. Morris came next and put in a partnership with his captain for 30 runs. He was trying to go big with another boundary ball, but was caught by Boult near the boundary rope.

A partnership, almost like the innings played when the Proteas played against Australia last year in Durban which defined the series for them, between Andile Phehlukwayo and de Villiers went unbroken for 56 runs. The required run-rate kept creeping up to nearly 10 runs needed in the overs remaining. Going into the 32nd over, SA needed around 22 runs off 12 balls to win. Quick singles between the two batsmen kept the scoreboard moving, then Phehlukwayo let a little bit loose and slammed a ball off Boult for six, getting SA closer to the score needed. In the last over, 12 runs were needed. A single and two extras brought the Proteas to 9 needed off 4 balls. Phehlukwayo creamed a delivery off Southee for another six. With one ball to spare, de Villiers hit the remaining runs for four to lead the ODI series 1-0. Man of the Match went to Quinton de Kock for his contribution of 69 runs.

A great performance to win the game by a nail-biter, but I do have some concerns. We may be in for more heart-attacks during this series if it’s going to be anything like today’s game. The death-bowling by South Africa in the last three overs of the New Zealand innings was a little bit concerning, due to the number of runs scored between two tail-end batsmen. While de Grandhomme may have a slight reputation of being a hard-hitting low-order batsman, he should be relatively easier to get out than a top-order batsman. The last over of that innings went for 22 runs. Southee and de Grandhomme shared an unbroken partnership of 51 runs. Our death bowling, for the importance of this team keeping their number 1 ranking if it’s any importance to them, needs to improve soon!

If We Cannot Take Two Tail-End Wickets, We’re Kinda Screwed

How South Africa managed to concede almost 100 runs towards the end of the Sri Lanka innings, let a Sri Lankan batsman sail to his maiden half century and century, and only take two more wickets of the middle-order to have them batting through with two wickets remaining, could be a slight cause for concern in terms of the Proteas’ bowling attack for the future.

A short summary of South Africa’s batting scorecard: Hashim Amla score 154 runs, him and our beloved wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock put on a first-wicket partnership of 189 runs in which de Kock scored his 12th ODI century. He later went out for 109, giving Sri Lanka the breakthrough they desperately needed. Another 50-run partnership brought South Africa closer to 250 runs as Faf du Plessis, whom had partnered Amla at the crease went out for 41. AB de Villiers came on next, but only managed to put on 14 runs from the 9 bowled to him. JP Duminy was next up, but also did not occupy the crease long enough, and scored 10 runs, including a boundary.

Amla, and fan-favourite, Farhaan Behardien, occupied the middle to put on 62 runs just before Amla was caught out, his 154 runs now being one of his best individual scores at Supersport Park in Centurion. Both batsmen had done a fantastic job in piling on more runs in the third powerplay, with Amla scoring sixes as freely as we have ever seen. A truly fantastic knock by him after going out cheaply in the fourth ODI in Cape Town for 1 run only. South Africa ended their 50 overs with 384-6. Many had speculated, after the pitch analysis done by Supersport commentators, that the team batting first would go on to around 400 runs due to the dry conditions. Upul Tharanga passed up that opportunity to have his bowlers concede more than almost 45 runs each, and six wickets shared between the seven bowlers; Suranga Lakmal taking three of the six.

I personally do not know what happened in the fourth ODI with AB constantly changing the bowlers, having Wayne Parnell open the bowling and going for almost 15 runs in the opening over, and not starting with Kagiso Rabada. However, speaking to a fellow cricket friend of mine, she had suggested that he may want experiment with different bowling partners for Rabada, bearing in mind that Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris did not play in that match. There was a lot more inexperience in that side compared to today’s game as Morris and Phehlukwayo were back in the squad, and Dwaine Pretorius and Tabraiz Shamsi were substituted out.

The bowling started off not too badly, with Rabada being slightly more expensive than usual. However, things turned around for the Proteas when Tharanga was caught out by Rabada off Morris for 7, which gave the Sri Lankan’s a slight wobble as Kusal Mendis was caught by de Villiers for one run, and Niroshan Dickwella was caught for 39. Sri Lanka had lost their top order and half their middle-order batsmen for 85 runs. A rebuilding partnership by Sachith Pathirana and Asela Gunaratne of 93 runs brought them slowly, but not enough, back into the match. Now, here is where things get interesting…

Phehlukwayo, at this point if I am not mistaken, had bowled one over, which was a maiden over. A couple of overs later, he bowls again and has now, going towards the third powerplay of the match, has bowled three overs and gone for six runs. Sri Lanka now go into the 42nd over of the match, with Parnell bowling the previous over and going for only three runs. You would want to keep things tight and build more pressure, right? Not quite possibly what AB was thinking: he brings in part-time bowler and occasional all-rounder Behardien to bowl the next over. What the actual reason was will be left to the Mythbusters of cricket researchers, because that was one interesting decision by AB.

This bowling change was so interesting, yet shocking, that during the over, du Plessis was looking around and probably thinking: “Really, best friend? You want to try and finish this match off like this? Seriously, best friend?” Do not worry, Faf, South African fans were kind of thinking the same thing. Behardien managed to concede 17 runs in his over, including four boundaries in a row. A question that I thought of out-loud was: is AB trying to make sure Behardien never refers to himself as an all-rounder again by making him bowl so that he can only be classified as a batsman? I may be just stirring the pot here, just could be a valid question.

It was slightly worrying that the SA bowlers could not bowl a hard enough length to get the remaining wickets to end the game much quicker than it should have. There was no need for the Sri Lankan innings to go to the full 50 overs. With that being said, should this be an ongoing problem for our bowlers now against a team like Sri Lanka, with due respect to them, there are going to be some interesting times ahead during the New Zealand tour coming up later in the week.

To conclude this match report, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Hashim Amla for winning a Man-of-the-Match award for his 154 runs in this game, and Faf du Plessis for winning Man-of-the-Series for his fantastic form throughout the ODI matches and surpassing 400 runs in a series.Congratulations goes to Quinton de Kock for surpassing 3000 ODI runs in 74 ODI matches which is the third fastest by a wicketkeeper, and Farhaan Behardien for surpassing 1000 ODI runs.

But the biggest congratulations must definitely go to the whole Proteas team for winning the ODI series 5-0 and moving to number 1 of the ICC ODI Rankings, passing Australia by one point to take top spot. May the upcoming matches be as prosperous and successful as this series of matches were.