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Ken Borland



You can tell Pink Day was a grave disappointment when … 2

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.

Ngidi left out of previous game at SCG, but man-of-the-match in Perth, so who misses out v Pakistan? 0

Posted on January 27, 2023 by Ken

Lungi Ngidi was left out of the Proteas XI for their previous game at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but he is coming off a man-of-the-match performance against India in Perth, so South Africa’s selection team face something of a quandary for their crunch T20 World Cup meeting with Pakistan on Thursday.

The pitch for the comprehensive win over Bangladesh in Sydney was certainly slower than the one in Perth, where Ngidi absolutely revelled with figures of 4/29. But pace was still effective against Bangladesh, with Anrich Nortje taking 4/10. But spinner Tabraiz Shamsi also shone with 3/20, so conditions on the day could be the decider.

Ngidi admitted after his demolition job on India that he was by no means certain he would even be playing the match.

“I was a bit surprised, I’ve not played much in this World Cup, so to come in on the day and perform against India … I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Ngidi said.

“I’m very happy and it is probably one of my best performances. You could see there was pace in the pitch. The plan was to not give any width and try to keep it as tight as possible. Dig it into the wicket.”

South Africa will also be very happy with the way all-rounder Wayne Parnell is performing, and he also enjoyed himself against India with 3/15 in his four overs.

“It was about hitting good areas. Sometimes you can get carried away with bowling short. Personally, it was just trying to hit the top of the stumps and keep things simple.

“We have a group of bowlers who are all capable of winning games. Each of us believes that and we know someone can step up on any given day,” Parnell said.

South Africa also know that if they beat Pakistan, then their semifinal place is almost certainly secure because they will have seven points and only one of India or Bangladesh, who play each other on Wednesday, can get to eight points if they win both their remaining matches. Zimbabwe would have to beat both the Netherlands and India, and substantially improve their nett run-rate, to finish on seven points and edge out the Proteas.

‘All about finding a way’ – Markram 0

Posted on January 23, 2023 by Ken

Aiden Markram said it was “all about finding a way” on a spicy Perth Stadium pitch as he and David Miller scored top-class half-centuries to take South Africa to victory by five wickets with two balls to spare in a thrilling T20 World Cup clash with India on Sunday.

India had chosen to bat first and struggled to 133/9 against a bombardment from a ferocious Proteas attack led by Lungi Ngidi (4-0-29-4) and Wayne Parnell (4-1-15-3). But India then swung the ball superbly up front to reduce South Africa to 24/3. Markram and Miller then battled to 40/3 after 10 overs, at which point they had to make a brave push for victory. They had to shift the momentum and then ran with it.

Markram attacked first, his 52 off 41 balls, swinging hard for six fours and a six, serving to loosen the grip of the Indian attack. Miller then completed the task with typical class and composure, scoring 59 not out off 46 balls.

“Conditions were incredibly tricky for batting, we expected the extra bounce, but the ball was also nipping around quite a bit,” Markram said. “In T20, you have to take risks and play a positive brand of cricket.

“But the ball gets big on you from just short of a good length and makes you look silly at times. I felt far from being in form, but it was about finding a way.

“It’s tough when there’s that extra bounce, but you need to make a play, you’ve got to take the short ball on or you won’t be scoring quickly enough. After 10 overs, we had to pick someone to target, who we felt most comfortable against in the conditions.

“We discussed it at the drinks break and we knew that if it comes off then it would give us a chance,” Markram said.

While batting was something of a daunting adventure on a pitch with so much pace and bounce, Markram also praised the bowlers for not getting carried away when conditions were so much in their favour.

“It was important for us to set the tone up front and Wayne Parnell has been doing that for us in a lot of games. He’s got the experience and the calmness because he knows his skillsets with the ball.

“In conditions like this, Lungi is also a massive weapon for us and he executed extremely well to get the early breakthroughs for us.

“It was important to hit the right hard lengths to extract that extra bounce. Both bowling attacks bowled very well and made it difficult to score.

“You can get carried away in terms of your lengths and then start giving freebies, but neither attack did that. They made life very difficult for the batsmen,” Markram said.

SA top-order dying slow deaths before Markram & Miller switch gears 0

Posted on January 20, 2023 by Ken

South Africa’s top-order were dying slow deaths as they went in pursuit of a mediocre target of 134, before Aiden Markram and David Miller switched gears in the second half of the innings to carry the Proteas to a thrilling five-wicket victory with two balls to spare in their T20 World Cup match against India at the Perth Stadium on Sunday.

After a superb bowling display led by Lungi Ngidi and Wayne Parnell had restricted India to just 133/9, South Africa’s top-order was blown away by brilliant swing bowling up front. Whereas the Proteas had used pace and bounce to unsettle the batsmen, India showed tremendous skill up front with the new ball.

Outstanding young left-arm paceman Arshdeep Singh swung the ball away from Quinton de Kock (1), to have him well-caught by Lokesh Rahul at second slip, and two balls later he swung the ball into another left-hander, Rilee Rossouw, to trap him lbw for a duck.

Temba Bavuma’s lack of form meant he was unable to get a bat on many of the magnificent deliveries bowled to him by Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and then attempted an ambitious scoop shot against Mohammed Shami and was neatly caught behind by Dinesh Karthik for 10.

South Africa were teetering on 24/3 and Markram and Miller almost looked like condemned men as they tried to weather the storm. They did well to stay in, but after 10 overs the score was just 40/3, meaning another 94 needed to be scored off the last 60 balls.

Markram decided to go for broke and, in a brave innings of 52 off 41 balls, he swung hard and shifted the momentum of the game, beating back the Indian bowlers. He should have been caught twice and Rohit Sharma also missed an easy run out chance, as he and Miller added 76 for the fourth wicket in 10 overs.

Miller was then left with the last 34 runs to score off 26 balls, and he once again showed his sheer class and skill at the death, steering the Proteas home with 59 not out off 46 balls.

India had chosen to bat first, and on a pitch offering steep bounce and plenty of pace, Ngidi set the cats amongst the pigeons as he reduced them to 49/5 in eight-and-a-half overs. The tall paceman used the bounce superbly, taking 4/29 in his four overs, and all four wickets came off shortish deliveries. But his line, just outside off stump with the occasional straighter delivery, was also outstanding.

Ngidi struck with just his second ball as Rohit (15) spliced a pull shot and the bowler took a return catch; Ngidi then ended his first over with the wicket of the other opener, Rahul (9) trying to steer the ball to third man but being caught at slip as the delivery got too big for him. Markram was practically standing on the fielding circle when he took the catch.

Virat Kohli counterpunched in scoring 12, but Ngidi then dismissed him, top-edging a hook to fine leg, where Kagiso Rabada took a good catch running around the boundary.

Rabada then took an absolute screamer, sprinting in from the fine leg boundary and diving forward to catch Hardik Pandya (2) off Ngidi.

With Anrich Nortje blasting out Deepak Hooda for a duck, India were crashing, but Suryakumar Yadav pulled the blue aeroplane out of its dive with a great innings, his 68 off 40 balls piloting them to a total that kept them in the match because of the strength of their own pace attack.

Left-arm seamer Parnell had done a fine job for the Proteas up front with the new ball, and he soared in the closing stages, taking 3/15 in his four overs, which included a maiden in the first over of the match.

Nortje (4-0-23-1) and Rabada (4-0-26-0) maintained the relentless pace pressure.

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