South Africa’s rookie bowlers pass the T20 test against Bangladesh

South Africa’s rookie bowlers pass the T20 test against Bangladesh

A new-look batting order and a bowling attack consisting almost entirely of rookies was no problem for South Africa as they easily won both their T20s against Bangladesh with ease. Focus now shifts towards the one-day series and, possibly, a few selection dilemmas. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

It’s a weird, parallel universe where the spinners from a sub-continental team are outfoxed on their home turf by spinners from a country that’s not really renowned for spin bowlers. Yet, that’s exactly what happened in South Africa’s 0-2 demolition job of Bangladesh in the two-match T20 series completed on Tuesday.

South Africa won the first match by 52 runs and completed the series sweep with a 31-run victory in the second match on Tuesday. The results should be a confidence booster ahead of the three-match ODI series.

The batting more than held its own, first on a slow deck in the first T20, where Faf du Plessis was the standout, scoring 79 off 61, supported by Rilee Rossouw’s lower order blitz of 31 off 21. In the second game, too, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock managed 40-odd each with David Miller and Rossouw offering the boost towards the closing stages of the innings to help propel South Africa to a good total. The rejigged batting order saw De Villiers open alongside De Kock and Rossouw channel his inner lower-order slogger. De Villiers’ promotion up the order is one which armchair critics have been calling for for a long time. The equation is simple: the best batsman has to face the most deliveries and when a guy like De Villiers is in a team, it would be foolish not to let him loose straight away.

While most of the players have not been completely out of cricketing action thanks to the IPL, they have been out of international action since the World Cup. That the team clicked backed into place with seeming ease will be encouraging for the powers that be.

While the batsmen were always expected to perform, all eyes were on the bowling unit for this T20 series, as will be the case for the one-day series that will follow soon. South Africa have opted for a largely inexperienced attack, including uncapped spinner Eddie Leie, but South Africa’s rookies did not let them down and have perhaps even caused a few selection pickles going forward.

In two games, Aaron Phangiso, rookie Eddie Leie and JP Duminy made inroads with Kyle Abbott playing the support role with his nippy yorkers. The trio of Phangiso, Abbott and Leie took 13 wickets between them, with only one them (Phangiso) averaging above 12.00.

Sure, it was only Bangladesh, but as far as comprehensive victories go, this was a pretty good return for the Proteas. While T20 matches as part of a bilateral tour are often little more than a filler for TV revenues, this series actually had a little bit more meaning. With a World T20 looming next year, South Africa will use every opportunity they can get to test out new combinations and their back-up players, but it will also provide a few potential selection headaches.

Incumbent spinner Imran Tahir has become one of South Africa’s best players in limited overs cricket in recent times, but with the World T20 being played in India next year, selectors might be tempted to include an unprecedented three spinners in the squad, if Leie keeps up his performances on the domestic circuit. With Duminy offering the part-time go-to option, South Africa are not short on spin options.

The batting is far less convoluted, although if Hashim Amla returns, South Africa might be tempted to keep De Villiers in the opening berth, slotting Amla in at number four to provide some stability.

Away from those combination pickles, from a skills perspective South Africa will be pleased as punch with their outing. The fast bowlers, who were hardly suited to conditions, performed beyond expectation. Kyle Abbott was particularly impressive and his skill at the death, specifically his ability to bowl yorkers, has been a breath of fresh air after an era of slower bouncers that so dominated the bowling arsenal of South Africa. While most of that execution would have come from Abbott himself, credit has to go to Charl Langeveldt, the new man in charge of South Africa’s bowling unit. Langeveldt had forged a reputation as, arguably, one of South Africa’s best ever death bowlers. He spent hours upon hours practicing yorkers during his playing days so the almost immediate return of this delivery for a number of the quick bowlers is no surprise.

South Africa begin their one-day series on Friday and there will be a few forced changes as the one-day squad looks slightly different to the T20 squad. Still, with the rookies doing so well in the shortest format of the game, expectation has now been set that they do similar in the ODIs. DM

Photo: South Africa’s batsman Faf du Plessis plays a shot during the Super Eight stage match of the World Twenty20 tournament between South Africa and India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 02 October 2012. EPA/HARISH TYAGI


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