You’ve just had a disastrous batting display, and have only 164 runs to defend on a tricky wicket.
That was the lot of the Proteas at the halfway mark of the Pink ODI at the Wanderers on Sunday, and it was the time to do something different to get back into the game.
While Usman Shinwari grabbed the headlines for taking four wickets in six balls, it was the spin twins of Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim who made the decisive plays.
South Africa were cruising at 119/2 in the 26th over when captain Faf du Plessis tried to take on Shadab, and only managed to hold out to Mohammad Hafeez on the midwicket boundary for 57 – where he had been deliberately placed by the bowler.
Worse was to follow when Hashim Amla hung back to a full ball from Imad and was bowled for 59.
We know the horror movie that happened next: the Proteas went from 119/2 to 164 all out.
Before looking at the batting collapse, perhaps Du Plessis missed a trick when faced with defending just 164.
Considering the impact made by Shadab and Imad, the situation called for something unusual – Imran Tahir opening the bowling.
Imran did just that with aplomb in the 2011 World Cup, and the manner in which the Wanderers pitch played on Sunday, he may have made some crucial early breakthroughs.
Instead, Dale Steyn and then Beuran Hendricks took the new ball – again, while Hendricks has been brought in to be assessed as a left-armer paceman ahead of the World Cup, Kagiso Rabada was the man who needed to bowl from the other end.
Rabada is ranked No 1 in Test cricket and No 4 in ODIs – he was the man to strike from one side, and Tahir – the next-best SA ODI bowler at No 11 – from the other.
As much as England traditionally favours seam and swing bowling, sometimes pitches up north become quite dry and aid spinners.
But back to the batting. As much as the dismissals of both Amla and Du Plessis were disappointing, the same can be said of the next two batsmen in the order, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller.
There was nothing particularly special about Mohammad Amir’s delivery that beat Miller’s inside edge and trapped him lbw for four, nor Shinwari’s back-of-a-length ball outside off that Van der Dussen slashed at and edged behind for 18.
The Lions star had Andile Phehlukwayo at the other end, and with his dismissal coming in the 38th over, he should’ve looked to at least bat out the 50 overs for a competitive total.
THAT’S A WRAP
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 27, 2019
But Miller, with 115 ODIs behind his name going into Sunday, was the man who needed to take charge, like he did a few months ago in scoring a century in Australia.
He has the ability to do it, but do we get to experience ‘Miller Time’ often enough?
So far in the current series, Van der Dussen has been the most impressive of the group outside World Cup certainties Du Plessis, Amla and Quinton de Kock.
Some would say that it’s good that the Proteas are getting these up-and-down displays out of the way before the World Cup.
But there are still places in that 15-man squad up for grabs, so the series decider at Newlands will be the right time for the contenders to play with some joie de vivre when the situation demands it – a bit like how Pakistan do…