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Ken Borland

Setting up victory did not come cheap for ‘critical but stable’ Malan

Posted on February 17, 2022 by Ken

Helping set up South Africa’s series-clinching victory over India in the second ODI in a sweltering Paarl on Friday did not come cheap for opening batsman Janneman Malan, who described his condition as being “critical but stable”.

On a day when the temperature reached 41°, Malan batted for two-and-a-half hours, scoring 91 off 108 balls, top-scoring as the Proteas chased down 288 with seven wickets and 11 balls to spare to complete remarkable back-to-back series wins over one of the superpowers of world cricket.

Malan put on 132 for the first wicket with Quinton de Kock, who blazed a quickfire 78, before solid 30s by Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen saw South Africa cruise to victory.

“It was way hotter than in the first ODI and it was always going to be a challenge for the body. But that’s what we work on our conditioning for. I feel critical but stable,” Malan, who cuts a rugged figure, said after the game.

His cricket brain was clearly as sharp as ever because he not only played a beautifully-judged innings for the situation, but also identified the two key areas where South Africa have had the edge over India in this series.

When India hammered the Proteas 5-1 in the 2018 ODI series here, spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal took 33 cheap wickets between them. This time it has been Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and even Markram who have had the wood over the Indian batsmen.

“We’ve handled their total overs of spin better than they have handled our overs of spin, and that has been a big confidence boost for us,” Malan said.

“Our playing and use of spin has been coming along for a couple of years now, we’ve been working really hard to improve and have better plans. Especially when the pitches are slow and its spinning.

“So we are using our sweeps, making sure they are well-executed to get the percentages our way.

“The other key thing has been partnerships. We made them work for every run and our bowlers kept getting wickets. We’re very proud that we had a century partnership and then two fifty-run ones. Those are really good signs,” Malan said.

Some of South Africa’s fielding on Friday was bad enough for their fans to fall of their chairs in front of their TVs, but the key characteristic of this team is their tenacity, which they have shown time and again in shocking the much-fancied Indian team.

As captain Bavuma said after the game: “I think as a team we have a lot of self-belief and confidence in our ability. We go out there and fight for one another. We really try to put in a real team effort.

“We don’t rely on superstars or one or two performances. Coming into this series, no one gave us much of a chance, so that really gave us motivation,” Bavuma said.

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