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5 positives for South Africa


India_South_Africa_ODI_cricketIndia secured a close victory in the deciding T20 against South Africa, but the JP Duminy-led side should take heart from the fact that theirs wasn’t a meek surrender. The Proteas put enough life in the match to take the game to the final over, even though they ended on the losing side. In stark contrast to their ODI outings – where they were clearly outplayed by Virat’s boys – South Africa put up a strong fight and have shown that they have new talents who do not balk at setbacks but produce fighting knocks when they most matter.

In a series that pretty much had India written all over it, what are the positives that South Africa can take away from their 2-1 defeat to India?

JP Duminy: the captain and batsman

Clearly a batsman who visibly seems past his peak, choosing a thoughtful accumulation of runs over mighty blows, Duminy demonstrated he still had some fight left in him; maybe just enough to seal a spot in the Cricket World Cup 2019.

It could be argued that when challenged from a leadership perspective, Duminy produces his A-game, as he did in the T20 series where he compiled useful scores of 55 and 64*, the latter a match-winning effort.

He nearly brought South Africa home in the T20 series where his astute leadership and thoughtful selection of a well-balanced side brought to light emerging talents like Klaasen, Phehlukwayo and Dala.

But importantly, in contrast to his rather dismal showing in the ODIs, where he scored 12, 25, 10 & 1, his T20 performances were marked by great composure. With some occasional big hitting enabled JP to register his tenth and eleventh fifties in the shortest format. Fans loved seeing the old JP return instead of a batsman who often seems unable to get any shot from the middle of the bat.

As captain, what impressed most was how well JP utilized his seamers and spinners in a contest that ran the risk of being utterly dominated by the batsmen.

Junior Dala seems a good fit for the T20 format

Despite not being a bowler who fires deliveries at express pace, Dala is not to be taken lightly. Owing to the ability to outthink batsmen in the absence of pure speed, the medium pace bowler urged the willow wielders to think twice before resorting to big hits. 28-year-old Junior Dala used this to his advantage.

His hoppy run-up to the crease generates sufficient energy to hit the deck hard and in the right areas to probe batsmen. He was the most impressive Protea bowler among talents like Shamsi and Phehlukwayo. Dala picked up 7 wickets, the most by a Protean bowler in the series.

Difficult to hit consistently and difficult to negotiate, Dala, with a rather uncanny action, possesses the knack of picking wickets at important intervals.

Rohit Sharma became Dala’s bunny, losing his wicket in all three games at key intervals in the game, giving the Proteas an early advantage.

Phehlukwayo boasts all-round potential

In the absence of big stars- Amla, de Kock, Faf and de Villiers, the fulcrum of the South African line-up rested with talents like Phehlukwayo. Even as he proved slightly expensive in the 3rd T20, he picked up a couple of wickets in the series and did not concede a single six in the three games.

An agile fielder with a useful pair of hands, Phehlukwayo possesses the fight to muster a challenge with the bat, which is a huge advantage that will aid South Africa as they enter the ICC World Cup 2019, a tournament where they might not want to rest only on the flair of their frontline batsmen.

Coming down the order with enough power in those arms, Phehlukwayo can chip in with useful cameos, a bright example of which we saw in the Fourth ODI at the Wanderers.

In Christiaan Jonker, South Africa’s middle order has great strength

It is rare that a debutant manages to conjure up a near match-winning effort. The pressure to perform at the international stage is a mighty ask like no other.

When Jonker unleashed himself on Indian bowlers, on debut, leading an impressive late charge, his 24-ball 49 (a strike rate of 204) nearly took South Africa over the line.

Jonker is a mighty striker of the ball, clubbing 2 sixes and 5 fours in his innings, and seemingly adept at finding the gaps. He offers hope to a South Africa that will look to consolidate its position in the forthcoming months having just witnessed an Indian onslaught.

Heinrich Klaasen, clearly the find of the series

Calm, composed and not too much of a talker, there’s a quiet surety about wicket-keeping batsman Klaasen that ultimately reflected well in his ODI and subsequent T20 performances.

Considering that de Kock might not always be in great swing with the bat, South Africa dearly need a reliable keeper who can double up as a handy batsman to ensure a flow of runs from the lower-middle order.

Klaasen picked the length of the ball particularly well and didn’t break into a sweat whilst compiling quickfire runs. He was honestly headline material as he went about scoring that emphatic, match-winning 69 off just 30 balls, an innings where he tore down Unadkat and Pandya, and came down harshly on Chahal in particular.

Thankfully, Klaasen’s efforts have yielded a call-up to the squad that is slated to play Australia.


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