Ken Borland

By Ken Borland

Journalist


Proteas look to be smarter, but to still play with freedom

"We want to give the batsmen the freedom to express themselves, especially up front in the powerplay," said first ODI batting star Rassie van der Dussen.


Pink Day, the charity event raising funds for cancer research, has been hosted by the fast-paced city of Johannesburg at the Wanderers for the last 10 years and Sunday’s second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan may not have any spectators allowed, but the Proteas need to bring their usual intensity and action-packed approach in order to stay alive in the series.

The first ODI was lost on the back of a Pakistan second-wicket partnership of 177 between Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq. The visitors scraped to victory off the last ball of the match only because the Proteas had fought back and claimed six wickets for 85 runs ass Pakistan neared their target.

The home side did that using aggressive fast bowling led by Anrich Nortje.

ALSO READ: Captain Babar leads Pakistan to thrilling win in first ODI

The Wanderers is traditionally a haven for pace and bounce and autumn on the Highveld adds more moisture and swing into the equation as well. South Africa’s pacemen need to be smarter about exploiting the conditions more; they perhaps relied too heavily on slower balls and cutters at Centurion when an approach more in line with how they would bowl in a Test match was called for.

“The plan was to bowl more Test lengths and we started brilliantly, but as the pitch became harder and flatter it was really difficult to defend and the batsmen were able to score quite freely,” centurion Rassie van der Dussen said after the first ODI on Friday night.

“But a lot of credit should go to the bowlers. I’ve been in a lot of situations like this on the Highveld and the team chasing gets home with five or six overs to spare.”

ALSO READ: Rassie: ‘The bowlers fought brilliantly, it just didn’t go our way 

It was a valuable toss for Pakistan to win in the first game and it was tough going for the Proteas batsmen in the first hour. But some of the strokes offered were not well-executed as South Africa slumped to 55 for four before Van der Dussen came to their rescue.

The star batsman said the shot-selection could be excused, it was just the execution that let the batsmen down, and a similarly positive approach is likely to be brought to the Wanderers.

“Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram gave us a good start and thought that they could then take on the powerplay,” Van der Dussen said.

“In hindsight they couldn’t because the pitch was a bit more difficult to bat on than they thought. You have to assess conditions and sometimes you make mistakes. But a guy like Quinny has played like that his whole career and we’re not too worried about the batting.

“England have probably been the best ODI team over the last two years and that formula works for them, so we want to give the batsmen the freedom to express themselves, especially up front in the powerplay. Quinny is usually brilliant there but it’s the nature of cricket that you won’t have success every time. Losing three wickets in a cluster is what we don’t want to do though.”

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