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Ken Borland

Proteas eager to improve batting against Indian pacemen, but unlikely to face tougher spin test

Posted on December 19, 2022 by Ken

The Proteas will be eager to improve their batting against the Indian fast bowlers in the second ODI in Ranchi on Sunday, but at least they know they are unlikely to be put to a tougher test against spin than they were in the first match.

Despite the Lucknow pitch turning square in the first ODI, Heinrich Klaasen (74* off 65) and David Miller (75* off 63) added 139 in 17.4 overs to take South Africa to a matchwinning total of 249/4 in a game reduced to 40 overs a side by rain.

But the top-order once again struggled, with seamer Shardul Thakur removing Janneman Malan and Temba Bavuma cheaply. The amount of swing and movement up front has been a standout feature of the white-ball games in India so far, but thankfully Quinton de Kock has batted beautifully in the last three matches to counter that.

“Obviously the ball spun a lot, but we’ve been working hard over the last couple of years to play in these conditions,” Klaasen said. “Our game-plan is to sweep both ways and it worked well.

“We definitely picked the right game-plan for the conditions, we just wanted to take the danger-ball, which was on a good length and turning a lot, out of play and rotate the strike.

“It has not been easy up front for both sides, and we also bowled very well at the start of India’s innings, but Quinny played an exceptional innings. A lot of people might look past his 48, but it was very vital.

“It meant we were still in a good position when Davo and I came in. It’s fantastic batting with him, his tempo makes it so easy, and we just said we must keep going and not let the tail come in in these conditions,” Klaasen said.

The nine-run victory in the first ODI gained precious 50-over World Cup qualification points for the Proteas, but Klaasen said their focus is just as much on not wasting the opportunity to get time in the middle ahead of the T20 World Cup later this month.

“We need to win nine out of nine games to maybe have a chance of automatic qualification, so that is very hard, but we will definitely try,” Klaasen said.

“But the World Cup coming up now is our goal. Next year’s World Cup is important too, but this series is also useful building up to the T20 World Cup.

“Of course we want to win every game in a South African jersey and we will just take it game for game,” Klaasen said.

The 31-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman also bemoaned the departure of all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius from the squad with a fractured thumb. They are both gutsy characters, showing the sort of temperament Test captain Dean Elgar always rates highly, never mind their white-ball worth.

“Dwaine is a big loss and it was a sad moment when we found out on the morning of the game,” Klaasen said. “I thought it was just a little thumb injury. I’m quite close to Dwaine, we have been through a lot to get here, and he is a massive loss.”

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