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Ken Borland

Thakur rips through before India withstand fiery Proteas burst 0

Posted on February 07, 2022 by Ken

Shardul Thakur ripped through the South African first innings with record figures before India withstood a fiery burst from the Proteas pacemen to reach 85/2 at stumps on the second day of the second Test at the Wanderers on Tuesday.

Thakur, India’s fourth seamer but fulfilling a key role as Mohammed Siraj was limited to just six overs on Tuesday due to a hamstring strain, claimed wonderful figures of 7/61 in 17.5 overs as the Proteas were bowled out for 229. They are the best ever figures for an Indian bowler against South Africa, beating the 7/66 off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took at Nagpur in 2015/16.

Leading by 27 runs on first innings, Marco Jansen and Duanne Olivier then each took a wicket before Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane added 41 as India finished the second day 58 runs ahead with eight wickets in hand.

Resuming on 35/1, Dean Elgar and Keegan Petersen withstood a frustrating pitch for batsmen given the variable bounce and excessive movement off the surface, adding 74 for the second wicket to take the Proteas to 88/1. India, missing a bowler, were starting to feel the pressure as the morning burst from Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah had been weathered.

But Thakur, a bustling bowler of brisk pace, then roared through the top-order, taking three wickets in 16 deliveries, without conceding a run. Elgar was caught behind for a 170-minute 28 and Petersen scored a determined but positive 62, his maiden Test half-century in his sixth innings, before driving loosely and edging a catch to second slip.

Thakur’s third wicket was that of Rassie van der Dussen (1), who was given out caught behind on what became the last ball before lunch, having inside-edged a delivery that jagged back into him, and bounced more than expected, on to his back leg, from where it went to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

But the South African camp were angered by the umpires not checking whether the catch was legitimate, replays showing the ball had bounced in front of Pant’s gloves. It was the second time in the morning session that he had claimed a catch on the bounce.

From 102/4 at lunch, Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne added 60 for the fifth wicket. But Thakur’s return half-an-hour before tea saw South Africa suffer two further setbacks as he trapped a leaden-footed Verreynne lbw for a useful 21 and then had Bavuma caught behind for 51, glancing a lifter down the leg-side and Pant taking a fine diving catch. It was Bavuma’s 17th Test half-century and he once again showed his grittiness and ability to make tough runs.

Jansen and Keshav Maharaj also made 21s to ensure India began their second innings marginally behind. They lost their openers inside the first dozen overs, Lokesh Rahul (8) being well-caught inches off the turf by Aiden Markram at second slip off left-armer Jansen, and Mayank Agarwal (23) shouldering arms to Olivier and being trapped lbw.

But the positive Pujara, who has hit seven fours off 42 balls, repelled an aggressive South African attack to shift the momentum again before stumps.

Pretorius obvious star of the show but he praises efforts of the spinners 0

Posted on February 19, 2021 by Ken

Dwaine Pretorius was obviously the star of the show as South Africa levelled the T20 series against Pakistan on Saturday with the best figures in the history of Proteas T20 cricket, but the all-rounder said the efforts of spin bowlers Tabraiz Shamsi and Jon-Jon Smuts in the middle overs of the innings were as worthy of reward as his incredible return of five for 17.

Pretorius broke the record for best T20 figures for South Africa, previously held by Ryan McLaren, who took five for 19 against the West Indies at North Sound. He bowled the second over of the innings, trapping Pakistan kingpin Babar Azam lbw with his second ball and then returned in the 14th over of the innings to remove top-scorer Mohammad Rizwan for 51 and claiming three other wickets in the closing stages of the innings.

But before his second spell, wrist-spinner Shamsi bowled brilliantly in the middle overs to take one for 16 in his four overs, while Smuts conceded just 20 runs in his four overs of canny left-arm orthodox.

“That was next-level bowing by Shamo and Jon-Jon and they could easily have taken the wickets instead of me. That’s why I say it was a collective effort by the attack and the two spinners tightened the noose superbly. And Heinrich Klaasen captained the team really well, changing the bowlers around a lot so no-one could get settled on the batting side.

“So the spinners did superbly and the other seamers also executed the plan really well, and I just tried to stick to my plan. Sometimes in T20, the simpler the better and I just tried to keep my plans simple, although I have learnt, especially from bowing coach Charl Langeveldt, that it’s vital that the batsman doesn’t know which ball is coming, you also don’t want the batsman to settle into facing one thing,” Pretorius said after the six-wicket win.

Pretorius also praised the batsmen, especially Reeza Hendricks and Pite van Biljon, who both scored 42 and played the spinners aggressively, showing that even a daunting leg-spinner like Usman Qadir is only human as he faltered under pressure, conceding 43 runs in his four overs.

“The batsmen have actually played a lot of good cricket lately, but then it’s just been one or two overs that we lose really badly. As a batting unit, they’ve tried to focus on making sure that when you hit a bad patch, you don’t lose a cluster of wickets. They’re trying to keep their intensity high and they did that unbelievably well today. It’s about the big moments and we played those better tonight,” Pretorius said.

Pretorius nabs best ever T20 figures for South Africa as they level the series 0

Posted on February 19, 2021 by Ken

Dwaine Pretorius produced the best ever figures by a South African in T20 Internationals as the Proteas levelled the series against Pakistan with a six-wicket triumph in the second match in Lahore on Saturday.

Medium-pacer Pretorius wrecked the Pakistan innings, especially in the closing stages, as he claimed fabulous figures of five for 17 to restrict the home side to 144 for seven.

The Proteas then chased down that target with 22 balls to spare, the innings being built around the partnership of 77 for the third wicket between Reeza Hendricks and Pite van Biljon, who both scored 42.

Pretorius opened the bowing with the left-arm spinner Jon-Jon Smuts and struck with the second ball he bowled, trapping Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain and kingpin, lbw for 5 as he nipped the ball back into the right-hander.

Mohammad Rizwan was once again the mainstay of the Pakistan batting, but the superb spin bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi (4-0-16-1) and Smuts (4-0-20-0) kept the home side quite in the middle overs.

The pressure told as Pretorius returned in the 14th over to dismiss Iftikhar Ahmed (20) and end the most threatening partnership of the Pakistan innings – 45 in 7.2 overs – David Miller taking an excellent steepling catch as the ball descended out of the foggy skies.

The all-rounder then claimed the big scalp of Rizwan in his next over, the in-form wicketkeeper mishitting a slower ball to be caught by long-off for 51 off 41 balls.

Pretorius then claimed the wickets of Khushdil Shah (15) and Mohammad Nawaz for a duck in the penultimate over, with only the big hitting of Faheem Ashraf (30 not out off 12 balls) getting the hosts to a vaguely competitive total.

Pretorius claimed the fifth five-wicket haul for South Africa in T20 Internationals and his figures improved on the previous best performance of five for 19 by Ryan McLaren against the West Indies at North Sound in 2010. It was also the best ever display against Pakistan.

After their heroics in the field, South Africa did not take the gentle approach to chasing down their moderate target, although left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi rocked them by removing Janneman Malan (4) and Smuts (7) in his first two overs.

But Hendricks and Van Biljon showed their experience by showing selective aggression. What was most impressive though was the intent they showed against the spinners.

Especially leg-spinner Usman Qadir, who dominated in the first T20 but was shaken from his cradle immediately on Saturday, as both batsmen hit him for sixes in his first over.

Qadir returned to dismiss Hendricks in the 12th over, but the opener’s 42 off 30 balls had already set South Africa well on the way to victory.

Even with Van Biljon falling in the next over to spinner Nawaz for 42 off 32 deliveries, the experienced pairing of Miller (25* off 19) and captain Heinrich Klaasen (17* off 9) guided the Proteas home.

The deciding third match of the series will take place on Sunday in Lahore as well.

John McFarland Column – SuperRugby format definitely needs to change 0

Posted on March 16, 2017 by Ken


There has been some real conjecture and speculation about how SuperRugby is going to change in 2018, but the one thing that is clear is that it definitely needs to change – declining viewing figures and attendance at the games proves it.

While the administrators took the wrong direction when they changed the format back in 2015, the move to expand was the right decision. Promises had obviously been made to the Southern Kings and a Japanese team is vital if they are going to maintain the improvement they have shown and grow the sport in that country.

Argentina also now have a great development program and they’re no longer losing as many top players to Europe, so it’s vital they stay in as well.

The problem is I don’t think the administrators knew what they let themselves in for travel-wise. The Sunwolves are 10 hours from Australia so they should be in that conference and then they would travel a lot less.

The Southern Kings are probably going to be judged on the basis of their results, bankruptcy and as money-makers, but they did really well initially in terms of getting numbers to games. They have performed better this year, so credit must go to the coaching staff for that improvement, but they still have not really moved forward, there is still a big difference between them and the other teams.

Normally during the time of SuperRugby negotiations, there are people saying that South Africa will go play in Europe but that hasn’t happened that much this time around so we are obviously committed to SuperRugby and the three conferences.

It will be very disappointing if we lose the Cheetahs, but I expect to see a deal in our favour, especially since last time we managed to get two home semi-finals. The SA Rugby Union negotiators must stand up for what they believe in and push for what they want.

I don’t think the players are averse to travel, but being away for five weeks in Australia and New Zealand as the Bulls were in the past is a heck of a trip and that’s why it was virtually impossible for a South African team to win SuperRugby, having to play five matches overseas.

This weekend we have our first Friday night SuperRugby game when the Bulls host the Sunwolves, which is hard to believe considering the six hours of rugby we’ve had to sit through on Saturdays. People want to watch rugby when they come home on Friday evening around a barbecue, but unfortunately the TV schedules have not allowed it.

On a happier note, I was fortunate to attend the Springbok Sevens training for a couple of weeks and was able to see first-hand what good coaching, spirit and attention to detail there is in that set-up. The Blitzboks’ culture is second to none, the way they back each other, encourage one another and work in the training sessions is outstanding.

That’s their strength as well as continuity. Someone like conditioning coach Allan Temple-Jones has been there forever and does a superb job – the Springbok Sevens are the best-conditioned team on the circuit and they are reaping the benefits of that.

What is most encouraging is that people are talking about Sevens and what the Blitzboks have done, and watching the games.

They are also never scared to use specialists – Richie Gray was brought in to work on the breakdowns before the Olympics and Dawie Snyman, the former Western Province coach, is doing a lot of work on their footwork and coaching them in sidestepping. You can see that coming through in the way they are beating people, so credit to him.

Neil Powell is overseeing it all and is handling the job with great dignity, so I really hope they come through and win the series. England are the only team with the continuity to push them and will be their biggest competition.

Continuity breeds confidence in any high-performance sport.

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.



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