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Ken Borland

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.

Proteas broth just never comes to the boil in 3rd T20 0

Posted on July 25, 2022 by Ken

South Africa’s broth just failed to ever come to the boil in the third T20 against India as a mixture of poor fielding and slow batting at the start of their chase saw them let slip a chance to wrap up the series as they lost by 48 runs in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday evening.

Having again won the toss and sent India in to bat, the Proteas made a lacklustre start to their effort in the field as Ruturaj Gaikwad (57 off 35) and Ishan Kishan (54) raced the hosts to 120 for one in 12 overs.

Although the South African bowlers fought back well with the ball, three straightforward catches were dropped in the field and, one of those beneficiaries, Hardik Pandya, scored 31 not out off 21 balls to lift India to 179 for five.

Batting became progressively more difficult as the ball became softer, and it was clear the Proteas would need a quick start in pursuit of 180, a productive powerplay being crucial if they were to score the bulk of their runs in the first half of their innings, as India did.

But Temba Bavuma (8 off 10) and Reeza Hendricks (23 off 20) struggled to get going in the face of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (one for 21) hooping the ball around and South Africa were 40 for three after seven overs.

There were some squawks of defiance from Dwaine Pretorius (20 off 16), Heinrich Klaasen (29 off 24) and Wayne Parnell (22* off 18) but South Africa were never really in with a shout as spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (three for 20) and seamer Harshal Patel (four for 25 in 3.1 overs) revelled in slowing conditions that allowed India to feel much more at home.

The Proteas were all out in the final over for 131, producing none of their fireworks of the first two matches.

South Africa’s bowling comeback had been led by Pretorius (two for 29), Kagiso Rabada (one for 31) and Parnell, who conceded 32 runs in his four overs.

Elgar wonders if Proteas should arrange to lose 1st match every time 0

Posted on February 11, 2022 by Ken

Given the Proteas’ history of being slow starters in series, there are those who would be tempted to arrange that they always lose the first match of a rubber like they did against India, before rebounding superbly to claim the spoils 2-1.

Even captain Dean Elgar admitted in the wake of the epic seven-wicket win in the decisive third Test at Newlands that he was aware, and rather bemused by, the trend. South Africa were well-beaten in the first Test against India at Centurion, going down by 113 runs. But they then staged a remarkable comeback, winning by seven wickets at both the Wanderers and in Cape Town, chasing down daunting targets of more than 200 on pitches with plenty of movement on both occasions.

“There were so many lows in that first game and losing first-up is never ideal at home,” Elgar said. “But it’s almost a trait of the Proteas that we need to be 1-0 down to realise that our backs are against the wall.

“So after losing the first Test we really knew we were up against it, but the guys really stood up from a character point of view. It worked to bring the best out of the players.

“I’m very relieved the guys responded the way they did and it was a proper squad effort, and a few individuals did exceptional things as well.

“Those were the highlights – the individual performances of players like Keegan Petersen, Marco Jansen, KG Rabada, Temba Bavuma and Lungi Ngidi. It boils down to the mutual respect we have in the squad,” Elgar said.

After all the turmoil over the last couple of years, the sensational victory over the world’s No.1-ranked side is evidence that things are stabilising in South African cricket. Under-fire coach Mark Boucher is comfortable that his national team are doing okay whatever his strident critics might be saying.

“I believe we turned the corner quite a while ago, actually. We’ve had pretty solid results for the last six months to a year,” Boucher said. “We’ve tried out a few players and they are coming good now.

“So we are getting some depth, but we are keeping our feet firmly on the ground because we know we are not the finished product. But I liked the intensity we showed, especially in the run-chases when we were looking to score,” Boucher said.

‘A new debut’ for Olivier who was grateful for his fellow pacemen 0

Posted on February 07, 2022 by Ken

For Duanne Olivier, Monday’s first day of the second Test against India felt like “a new debut” and he gave credit to his fellow pacemen for their efforts in helping to turn a slow start into ultimately a successful opening day for the Proteas as they bowled the tourists out for just 202.

Olivier missed the first Test as he built himself back to peak conditioning following a bout of Covid, but on Monday he was back sharing the new ball with Kagiso Rabada, playing Test cricket for the first time since February 2019, when he took a Kolpak contract in England.

But things did not go well in the first hour for either Olivier, whose first four erratic overs went for 18 runs, or South Africa, as India reached 36/0.

But the drinks break helped the Proteas focus their effort and thereafter they squeezed India and claimed 10 wickets in 49 overs. Olivier and Rabada took three wickets each and young Marco Jansen claimed the other four; Lungi Ngidi bowled as well as any of them but ended with 0/26 in 11 overs.

“It felt like a new debut for me and I was very nervous,” Olivier admitted. “But we just wanted to try and have good energies and put pressure on the batsmen. Lungi and Marco did a superb job to create that pressure.

“And then the whole unit did it. It was a good day for the bowling unit as a whole. We would have taken 202 all out any day. The message from the coach was to stick to the basics and our processes and then reap the rewards.

“Lungi bowled exceptionally well but did not get the rewards, it was just one of those days for him. I am still trying to bowl fuller at good pace, but a couple of balls were too floaty. I will try to do better in the second innings,” Olivier said.

The Proteas batsmen then reached 35/1 at stumps and Olivier is optimistic they can cash in on the second day.

“If we want to be hyper-critical then we probably gave India 20-30 too many runs. The pitch is a bit different to how it is in domestic cricket, there’s not as much grass. It is harder and it will speed up.

“It was very hot today and it will start deteriorating in the second innings and then it might spin. We are 1-0 down, that is the reality, and of course we want to win the series.

“But as a team we can’t look too far ahead, otherwise our focus is not where it needs to be and you can get distracted. Tomorrow is a new day and we will break our processes down into smaller bits,” Olivier said.

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