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Ken Borland

Proteas kicking themselves for a few more runs & vital no-balls 0

Posted on April 23, 2021 by Ken

South Africa will be kicking themselves that they didn’t just score a handful more runs or solve their no-ball problem as they made Pakistan sweat in pursuit of a target of just 145, the tourists eventually winning by three wickets with just a ball to spare in the fourth and final T20 at Centurion on Friday evening.

Following a dismal batting display that saw the Proteas bowled out inside their 20 overs for the first time in more than a year, Pakistan made a fast start courtesy of Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman (the Proteas will be having nightmares over those two) adding 91 in nine overs.

Fast bowler Lizaad Williams removed both in the 10th over, Fakhar having blazed his way to 60 off 34 balls, while Babar’s contribution was a mere run-a-ball 24.

Much like in the South African innings, the collapse from there was rapid as Pakistan crashed from 92 for one to 129 for seven.

Pacemen Sisanda Magala (4-0-33-2), Andile Phehlukwayo (2-0-11-1) and Williams (3.5-0-39-2) backed up another excellent spell from wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (4-0-21-1), and suddenly South Africa were back in the game with Pakistan needing 25 from three overs.

The 18th over by Phehlukawayo went for nine but Magala made a magnificent start to the penultimate over, with three dot balls and a wicket bringing the equation to 16 needed off eight balls. And then he bowled successive no-balls for the second time in the series, the second free hit seeing Mohammad Nawaz (25* off 21) hammer a six that meant only a run-a-ball was needed in the last over.

The Proteas, needing to win the match in order to share the series, started well enough after being sent in to bat as they reached 109 for two in the 13th over. But outstanding seam bowling saw them lose seven wickets for only 35 runs as they were skittled for a meagre 144, posting their lowest all-out total since Australia shot them out for just 96 at Newlands in February 2020.

Aiden Markram again looked in prolific touch, hitting Nawaz’s first four balls for 11 runs, but he was then trapped lbw by the left-arm spinner’s arm ball, a bit unluckily as the batsman’s review showed it was umpire’s call for both height and hitting leg-stump. Janneman Malan scored 33 off 28 deliveries as he put on 57 for the second wicket with Rassie van der Dussen.

The ever-reliable Van der Dussen went on to score 52 off 36 balls, but he had just reached the milestone when things again fell apart for the Proteas around the 13th over, he and captain Heinrich Klaasen (9) being dismissed in successive overs.

Malan and Van der Dussen were the only batsmen to reach double figures as Pakistan’s pacemen, keeping to a good, full length on a pitch that was slower than two days ago, ripped through the rest of the batting.

Faheem was outstanding, taking three for 17 in his four overs, Haris took two for 18 in three-and-a-half overs and Shaheen Shah Afridi also bowled extremely well to concede just 19 runs in his four overs and take a wicket.

‘This is not the standard of Proteas fielding you are used to,’ – Boucher 0

Posted on April 21, 2021 by Ken

“This is not the standard of fielding you are used to from a South African team,” coach Mark Boucher admitted on Thursday before explaining his frustration over the performance in that crucial department ahead of the fourth and final T20 against Pakistan at Centurion on Friday.

The Proteas have to win on Friday to level the series, but it has been an uphill struggle for a bowling attack shorn of its first-choice fast bowlers and not being particularly well-backed in the field. It was particularly apparent in the third T20 when Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan survived a few half-chances before putting the bowling to the sword as Pakistan chased down 204 with two overs to spare.

“We are pushing the guys so hard in training and the frustration is that they are brilliant then, taking unbelievable catches and the intensity is great. But then in the last game from the second over already we gave away soft runs. We need the guys to stand up in the field and we have been asking the players why the energy and intensity is not there always?

“It’s almost like they take a step back when they get into a match and this is not the standard of fielding you are used to from a South African team. We need to change that, it is something we are addressing and fielding is largely about attitude. Maybe the players are lacking confidence to bring it on match day?” Boucher mused on Thursday.

South Africa also need to be much better under pressure than they were in the third T20, which was as one-sided as the Proteas’ big win in the second match at the Wanderers.

“Under pressure, the guys have not responded the way we know they can. They’re not used to being attacked like that at this level, they got rattled and we did not stick to the plan, we ended up chasing the ball a bit. We’ve gone from the absolute high three days ago to the last game, that’s T20 cricket. We just looked completely rattled under pressure and it was a bad day.

“But three days ago we were very good and that shows things can change quickly in T20 cricket, as long as the energy is right. So we need to come with the right attitude and intensity, yes we have to execute our skills as well, but in our meetings all morning with the players, I got the sense that they know they were not up to scratch and they really want to put that right,” Boucher said.

Boucher explains why Verreynne has slim chance of T20 selection 0

Posted on April 21, 2021 by Ken

Coach Mark Boucher explained the controversial selection issues around the Proteas T20 team on Thursday and it would seem the chances are slim that rising star Kyle Verreynne will be playing in the fourth and final match against the Pakistanis at Centurion on Friday.

Verreynne was one of the stars of the last ODI against Pakistan, scoring a tremendously composed 62 off 53 balls, and has been one of the form batsmen of the summer, averaging 97.14 for the Cape Cobras in first-class cricket. But in the domestic T20 Challenge he scored 123 runs in five innings, at a strike-rate of 128.

The 23-year-old’s career strike-rate in T20 cricket is 123 and he hits an average of 1.86 fours per innings and a six in roughly every second innings. Pite van Biljon, who is probably the batsman Verreynne could replace, has a career strike-rate of 130 and an average of 1.58 fours per innings and one six per innings.

“I want to win games of cricket, that’s the focus for me, but I am one of four selectors and we choose from a squad that was selected for us. Kyle was chosen by them as the back-up wicketkeeper to Heinrich Klaasen when we spent two days discussing who was the back-up for whom. Wihan Lubbe [career SR 137] was chosen as top-three back-up. I understand Kyle was very good in the last ODI, but T20 cricket is a bit different.

“Directly after the franchise T20 competition, the computers were brought out and we considered the aggressive brand we want to play, and the collective felt that Lubbe should get an opportunity in the top-order. Kyle is growing and we believe he can still add to a couple of parts of his game and become a world-class performer in all three formats,” Boucher explained on Thursday.

The seeming imbalance of the side, with just about every bowling option under the sun being included but Andile Phehlukwayo batting at seven and not bowling has also come under scrutiny.

“Andile is playing as an all-rounder because you can’t go into a T20 with just five bowling options, that won’t work. It’s always nice to have options, we had seven in the last game, but the captain has to make the call when to use them. We bowled really well in the second T20 which is probably the reason why Andile didn’t bowl then.

“In the last game we couldn’t pick up wickets and we went to death bowling fairly early, and there are certain guys who then come into the game like Sisanda Magala and Lizaad Williams, as the captain wanted to make it difficult for Pakistan to score. But it didn’t come off,” Boucher said.

Sharks currently fourth & in just as much of a do-or-die clash 0

Posted on January 07, 2021 by Ken

The Sharks are currently in fourth position on the Currie Cup log and notwithstanding the Free State/Western Province match being the showpiece clash of the weekend, when Griquas rock up at Kings Park on Saturday afternoon, the home side will be involved in just as much of a do-or-die clash as the two teams in Bloemfontein.

The Free State Cheetahs are the team in fifth, one point behind the Sharks, so obviously the KwaZulu-Natalians cannot afford to slip up against the bottom side on the log. Especially since they play Western Province at Newlands in the last round of fixtures. Western Province have their own pressures because they could finish anywhere from first to fifth, and out of the semi-finals, depending on their results in the next fortnight.

Just to add to the pressure on the Sharks’ they are currently dealing with a Covid outbreak and with some players coming back and others testing positive, coach Sean Everitt has been forced to change the majority of his team over the last few weeks. And it has shown in heavy defeats on the road to the Lions and the Cheetahs.

Everitt was doing his best to paint a positive picture on Thursday.

“This team has had a good week’s preparation, they are very tough on themselves and they have high standards, they know they have not delivered the standards of performance we expect over the last two weeks. But it’s easily identifiable what went wrong against the Cheetahs and we know Griquas are always a massive challenge as well.

“They always run teams close and I feel they were unfortunate not to beat the Lions and Western Province. We have no doubt what they will bring, they are desperate as well and obviously motivated to knock over one of the big four. So we are under no illusions, we know it is going to be a physical battle and a big duel at set-piece. But our team is determined to bounce back,” Everitt said on Thursday.

Desperation, motivation, physicality and set-piece prowess are also all the sort of properties the Pumas, those other ‘minnows’ of the Currie Cup, will bring to their match against the Lions on Saturday, especially since they are playing in Nelspruit.

While the Lions are rightfully wary of their neighbours, they are also targeting a bonus point win because that could make a massive difference in their hunt for a home semi-final. Ivan van Rooyen’s team are currently in third place, two points behind Western Province and six behind log-leaders the Bulls.

Momentum is with the Lions and they are also quite fortunate in terms of player availability, with in-form prop Sti Sithole probably their only first-choice player who is out injured at the moment.

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