Hashim Amla defended the Proteas’ team selection following Saturday night’s five-wicket loss to Pakistan in Port Elizabeth.
The hosts’ bowling attack on a slow St George’s Park pitch, which featured only one specialist spinner in Imran Tahir, was exposed as the majority seam attack gave too much pace away.
In contrast, Pakistan – despite only taking two wickets – were able to keep South Africa from accelerating enough towards the end of their innings by using slower bowling, particularly spinner Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim,” effectively.
To rub salt into the wounds, opener Reeza Hendricks came on to bowl three overs of part-time off-spin and managed to get the wicket of Babar Azam.
It illustrated vividly that South Africa may have gotten their selection balance wrong.
“The ball started to turn towards the evening,” said Amla, who scored a solid, unbeaten 107.
“So Reeza came in and chipped in with his offies. But captain and coach had an idea of how we were going to win, whether it was going to be an extra spinner or all-rounder. I really can’t say much about whether we got it right or wrong, it’s about what you feel will win you the game on the day.”
South Africa were criticised in the aftermath for not scoring more runs at the back end of the innings given that they only lost two wickets, but Amla, who carried his bat, was quick to point out that things weren’t as simple.
“Look, I would’ve traded my hundred for a win,” he said.
“It was a tough wicket to bat. I know we only lost two wickets, but it was really difficult to get the ball away. The Pakistan spinners were used well. They bowled really well towards the back end, we just couldn’t get the acceleration we required.”
One positive development for the Proteas was Rassie van der Dussen’s superb debut.
The Highveld Lions right-hander recovered well from a nervy start to make a fine and fluent 93.
“He batted exceptionally well. It was a wicket where a batsman needed to take 20 balls to get in. He managed to get through that and found his rhythm,” said Amla.