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Ken Borland


You can tell Pink Day was a grave disappointment when …

Posted on December 17, 2023 by Ken

Arshdeep Singh was the destroyer of the Proteas batting at the Wanderers on Pink Day.

You can tell Pink Day was a grave disappointment at the Wanderers on Sunday when even India’s bowling hero, Arshdeep Singh, sounded a bit disappointed that no Proteas batsman could pose any serious challenge to him at a venue that used to be famous for spectacular batting exploits.

South Africa, choosing to bat first, were bundled out for just 116 in 27.3 overs, their lowest ever ODI total at home, with Arshdeep doing the bulk of the damage with career-best figures of five for 37 in his 10 overs.

The left-arm quick rocked the Proteas early with back-to-back wickets in his first over, the second of the innings, as he bowled Reeza Hendricks off the inside edge and then trapped Rassie van der Dussen lbw, both batsmen out for ducks on their home ground.

Tony de Zorzi led a slight shift in momentum as he scored 28 off 22 balls before being caught behind off Arshdeep in the eighth over, leaving the home side 42 for three. With Avesh Khan getting in on the action with brilliant figures of 8-3-27-4, South Africa then lost four wickets for 31 runs as they crashed to 73 for eight.

Avesh also took two wickets in two balls when he bowled Aiden Markram (12), also playing on, and then trapped Wiaan Mulder lbw, making it a team hat-trick as Arshdeep had bowled Heinrich Klaasen (6) at the end of the previous over with a lethal delivery that jagged back to hit the top of leg-stump.

That South Africa made it to 116 was thanks to Andile Phehlukwayo, whose defiant 33 came off 49 deliveries and included a couple of sweetly-struck sixes.

A used pitch – the same one that the Proteas batting crumbled on in the midweek T20 match – that offered considerable lateral movement, was not was expected on Pink Day, which is usually a pretty miserable day for bowlers.

Arshdeep sounded a little disappointed that the hype did not live up to expectation.

“I went to dinner last night with Axar Patel and Avesh and we were talking about how brutal the Proteas are on Pink Day, just hitting sixes all the time. We actually spoke about hopefully trying to restrict them to less than 400,” Arshdeep said after his man-of-the-match performance.

“But there was a bit of moisture in the pitch and it was also a bit up-and-down. The plan was really simple, to hit good areas and try and extract that movement, get nicks and lbws.”

There may be some questions over why groundsman Brendon Frost, who served for many years at Benoni’s Willowmoore Park, used a used pitch for the showpiece Pink Day occasion and also why it broke with tradition by being so bowler friendly. But according to the Central Gauteng Lions, the Proteas actually asked for the same pitch used for the T20 game.

But India’s brilliant bowling and South Africa’s meek failure to adapt meant their own attack barely had a chance to defend their meagre total. That became no chance when debutant Sai Sudharsan (55* off 43 balls) and Shreyas Iyer (52 off 45) added 88 for the second wicket.

The Proteas eventually bended the knee with 200 balls remaining in the match, surely their worst ever display on Pink Day and one that left a large but not capacity crowd mostly only halfway through the vats of booze they were hoping to consume.

South Africa batting coach JP Duminy did not exude any bitterness about the conditions and did not want to be drawn into a discussion of whether such pitches are good for ODI cricket, especially on important occasions like Pink Day. He said it was up to a batting line-up that, De Zorzi apart, has plenty of experience, to adapt better.

“In ODI cricket, you want a good competition between bat and ball. In the first phase of the game, the ball did a lot more than expected. We did expect it to do something, we make decisions based on previous information and we know at the Wanderers that if you get through the new ball then batting becomes easier,” Duminy said.

“Yes, conditions played a role today, but that can never be an excuse, we still have to find a way. Credit to the Indian bowlers, they bowled particularly well, but we need to understand the options that are there in those conditions.

“The batting has been pretty consistent for a period of time, but now we need to take accountability, our execution will always be judged and now is a time for reflection,” Duminy said.

With the match all over, done-and-dusted by 2.15pm, the Proteas certainly left themselves plenty of time for post-mortems.

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  1. Mark Smit says:

    Nice piece Kenny. I was tremendously excited by what I saw in Nandre Burger and there were shades of Quinton de Kock in De Zorzi’s innings. All very encouraging. And Burger being picked up by IPL is amazing don’t you think?

    • Ken says:

      Hello Mark! So nice to hear from you.
      Sorry I’m only replying now – for some reason I was not notified of your message.
      Hope you are keeping well.
      Burger has been in great form all season and definitely has a lot to offer as a left-armer who is genuinely quick and can swing it. His IPL contract just shows how impressing the right people at the right time can change your life!
      De Zorzi batted beautifully – he’s always been highly-rated and I think he’s added a great temperament to that now.



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