CAPE TOWN – South Africa will hope they are able to buck the trend that has stretched throughout England’s tour today in the second T20 international at Kingsmead.
The Proteas won the opening match of the Test and ODI series before the visitors came roaring back. Now Quinton de Kock’s team have also won a thriller at Buffalo Park in the opening T20 and will know they need to be on guard in Durban. Firstly, the forecast is in favour of the game actually getting underway at Kingsmead after the second ODI was washed out last week. Kingsmead has been ravaged by poor weather whenever cricket has been scheduled there this season, and at least both the players and fans can expect a full game.
This will suit both teams as they bid to fine-tune their preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. The Proteas have just 10 T20s remaining, including today’s match, before their opener against India on 24 October at Perth’s new stadium. England have just nine games.
The Buffalo Park defeat certainly dented the pride of the powerful England team and they will be eager to rectify matters second time around. Having already employed a successful blueprint that ultimately resulted in winning the 50-over World Cup, Eoin Morgan though knows the value of tightly-contested matches ahead of a global tournament.
“It was an outstanding game of cricket,” Morgan said after Wednesday’s one-run defeat.
“Experiences like this, particularly with a World Cup around the corner, are just so valuable to the team. I think we learn more about both sides when they get put (under) a little bit more pressure. Both teams gave it absolutely everything and left everything on the field, but in all honesty, I thought in all three departments today (Wednesday) we could make up more than that.
“We were always in a commanding position, and we never really looked flustered until (Lungi) Ngidi came on in the 18th over and then turned the game on its head.
“Even in a position of needing seven off the last over, with new guys coming in, we expected to win that game, but it’s a great game to play in because you get a feel for where guys are at, what skill level they can produce, and how their temperament is. So in terms of actually improving (our team), I think it’s great for us.”
De Kock will hope his team takes similar lessons from the series opener, and even more considering his charges ultimately edged over the line by the narrowest of margins. It will give them the belief that they can hold their nerve even under intense pressure.
Equally, De Kock is smart enough to know it was not a complete performance from his team. Although the eventual total of 178/8 was the highest T20 score at Buffalo Park, SA were set up for much more after being 111/1 after the 11th over.
The fact that the middle order fell away almost proved detrimental and thought needs to be put in to how SA are going to lengthen their tail, especially when all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius doesn’t bowl and left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks only comes as late as the 15th over.
SA need greater batting depth and will not get away with playing such a high-risk strategy all the time.
Full Proteas T20 squad
Quinton de Kock (capt & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen.