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Ken Borland

Bavuma: Proteas bowlers stuck to hard lengths longer than they should have

Posted on January 30, 2023 by Ken

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma conceded on Thursday that the Proteas bowlers had stuck to their usual hard lengths for longer than they should have as a resurgent Pakistan team beat them by 33 runs in their T20 World Cup match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

South Africa bowled superbly in the first half of the Pakistan innings, reducing them to 55/4 after nine overs, but brilliant half-centuries by Iftikhar Ahmad (51 off 35) and Shadab Khan (52 off 22) saw the desperate Pakistan team lash 130 runs in the last 11 overs, including 80 in the last six.

There were too many deliveries in the slot for the batsmen, which was in stark contrast to how Pakistan bowled, especially after the rain delay when South Africa needed 73 off 30 balls. Pakistan consistently either found the blockhole or bowled slower balls into the pitch.

“From 50/4, the last thing you expect is for them to get 185. But the problem lay with us,” Bavuma admitted. “Our hard lengths have been very successful previously, using our pace and height.

“We were superb for the first 10 overs, but the conditions changed, the ball started sliding on and the short boundaries were in play, and we should have shown more awareness to adapt. Their batsmen started to exploit it and put us under pressure. The wheels fell off.

“We allowed three or four overs to go by, we allowed them to get momentum into their innings, and the damage had been done by the time we tried to change things.

“Hard lengths was probably not the right plan considering the conditions out there, and they were able to get a formidable score. We know Pakistan are really dangerous whenever they get a sniff,” Bavuma said.

Perhaps the biggest positive to come out of the defeat was how Bavuma, who was been through a really hard time with his batting, was able to score a sparkling 36 off just 19 balls. He was especially severe on anything short, and he and Aiden Markram had the Proteas well-placed on 65/2 after seven overs when leg-spinner Shadab dismissed both of them in his first over, just before the rain delay.

“It’s been a while since I hit the ball in the middle and I felt a lot better today,” Bavuma said. “I was seeing the ball well and making better decisions. I just tried to enjoy it and watch the ball more.”

South Africa now have to beat the Netherlands in their final group game on Sunday to reach the semi-finals.

“Maybe this was the performance we needed to bring us back to earth. There are certainly areas we can learn from, and if you’re going to learn, now is probably the time to do it.

“We have a bit of a lifeline because of the way we’ve played well up till now. We didn’t play our best cricket today and came unstuck. It was probably a bit of a wake-up call,” Bavuma said.

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