Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

OPINION: Proteas’ top order woes will cost them if not fixed

Tougher challenges await the Proteas when they reach the Super 8 phase of the tournament.

The Proteas top order batting woes will come back to bite them if they don’t sort it out by the time the 2024 T20 World Cup hits the business end of the competition.

It has been an extremely rocky tournament for the Proteas so far, with all three of their games played on the notoriously bowler friendly New York drop in pitch, which has led to them battling out three very tight wins.

ALSO READ: ‘We’ve done our job here,’ says Klaasen as Proteas leave New York

Arguably the Proteas opening win against Sri Lanka was comfortable, and they can be forgiven for taking 16.2 overs to chase down just 77 runs for their six-wicket win, as it was their first game on the difficult wicket.

But it doesn’t change the fact that they found themselves in a spot of bother early on 23/2 and then again at 58/4 before seeing out the game, with opener Quinton de Kock top scoring with 20 off 27 balls.

However their next two games at the ground saw even worse starts that put them in massive trouble that they had to be dug out of.

In their four wicket win in their second match, after having the Netherlands in huge trouble on 48/6, their bowlers slightly allowed them to get away as they reached a low 103/9 at the end of their 20 overs.

Simple chase

What should have then been a simple chase the Proteas contrived to make it anything but as they were reduced to 3/3, with two ducks, and 12/4 before David Miller, 59no off 51 balls (3×4, 4×6) and Tristan Stubbs, 33 off 37, showed you can bat on the pitch if you apply yourself.

Their third match, a four-run win over Bangladesh, also saw a disastrous start as Proteas captain Aiden Markram surprisingly chose to bat first, with them reduced to 23/4 before Heinrich Klaasen, 46 off 44, and Miller, 29 off 38, batted them to what proved to be a winning total of 113/6.

Bangladesh however should have won the game, with them perfectly placed on 83/4 after 15 overs, needing just 31 off 30 balls, only for them to implode down the back end.

Tougher challenges await the Proteas when they reach the Super 8 phase of the tournament, and against better teams like India or Australia they won’t be allowed to recover from disastrous starts.

They thus have one last pool game to sort out their top order problems, against minnows Nepal, and you have to wonder if they will back their first choice players to bat themselves back into form, or give their reserves a chance to prove themselves.

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