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Ken Borland

Batting 1st with rain around has po-faced critics, but Proteas sticking to their strengths – Maharaj 0

Posted on September 05, 2022 by Ken

Proteas captain Keshav Maharaj’s decision to bat first even though rain was forecast in the third and decisive ODI against England last weekend had its po-faced critics, but as he later explained it was done to ensure South Africa stuck to their strengths and their game-plan, which leans heavily on their spinners.

While the rain ultimately washed out the match and made the toss a moot point, when the T20 series gets underway on Wednesday night in Bristol, we can expect the Proteas to stick to roughly the same game-plan as they use in ODI cricket.

South Africa’s rise to fourth in the T20 rankings has been built around the strength of their attack, and Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, number three in the world T20 rankings, have been key performers with their ability to both take wickets and stem the flow of runs. The game-plan has been the security blanket they cling to because it has carried them through some very tough times.

“We want to make sure we stick to our blueprint at all times and not go back into our slump,” Maharaj said.

“We really turned up to play in the last ODI, it could have been a spectacular end to the series, so it was frustrating to not get a result, but we can’t control the rain.

“The overhead conditions at Headingley told a different story, but the pitch was quite dry and we back our two spinners. We wanted to allow the wicket to deteriorate and use the spinners in the second innings,” Maharaj said.

Despite their awful collapse to 83 all out in the second ODI, the Proteas have built up some trust in their batting line-up. Aiden Markram (third) and Rassie van der Dussen (10th) are both high in the T20 world rankings, while Quinton de Kock is 15th and he showed in the final ODI that he still has that matchwinning x-factor.

“Obviously the batting collapse was not ideal and it was really disappointing after the spectacular batting in the first game,” Maharaj said. “The batting unit has generally been pretty good lately though.

“That first ODI was probably the most clinical we’ve been in the last 18 months and we want to replicate that in the T20s. Adapting to the pitch is the most crucial thing.

“It’s great to have Quinny back to his best too and his skill factor is one of the best in the world. He made it look much easier to bat than it was, and it’s always nice to see your senior players put their hands up,” Maharaj said.

David Miller is captain for the T20s and the series is likely to see the return of both Markram, who missed the India matches due to Covid, and Rilee Rossouw to the top-three of the Proteas batting line-up.

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