SA captain Bavuma: 'I just wanted to spend time at the crease with the belief that it would get easier'
The restraint showed by the top order helped pave the way for South Africa as they levelled the ODI series against Pakistan at the Wanderers on Sunday.
They won the Pink Day clash by 17 runs to draw level with Pakistan, who had won in Centurion two days earlier.
While the Proteas posted an impressive 341/6 in their 50 overs after being asked to bat, the innings required them to shift carefully through the gears, as the conditions early on gave the bowlers something to aim at.
“When I came in, we were still in the power play and it was quite hard for any kind of stroke play, so I just tried to get a partnership going with Quinny (Quinton de Kock),” said captain Temba Bavuma, who top scored with 92.
Some might have felt Bavuma and De Kock (80) went about their business with an abundance of caution, but they did not want to see a repeat of their top order collapse two days earlier.
“I just wanted to spend time at the crease with the belief that it would get easier,” said Bavuma. “I’m not sure it got much easier, but we did get more accustomed to the pitch.
“We are trying to be aggressive, but sometimes you also have to earn the opportunity to do that.”
Their approach helped Bavuma and De Kock negotiate that tricky patch and it later allowed the redoubtable Rassie van der Dussen (60) and the impeccable David Miller (50) to swing lustily.
Van der Dussen went to the crease with an average of 83 and he looked to be on par before he was caught in the deep. Miller remains one of the game's most brutally calculated finishers and he did the job again on Sunday, smashing 50 off 27 deliveries.
While the South African total was always going to prove challenging, their at times ragged bowling and fielding helped get the tourists closer than they perhaps should have.
Of course Fakhar Zaman's remarkable 193, the highest individual ODI score at the Wanderers, kept the Pakistani interest going. The innings, that contained 10 sixes, was also the highest ever in an ODI chase.
His savage assault on the SA attack, particularly Tabraiz Shamsi, didn't so much showcase the range of his stroke play as it did his ability to clear the boundary in his areas of preference.
“He played an incredible innings. I think it is the best I've seen or come across,” noted Bavuma.
The South African attack and fielding will have some tidying up to do before the final ODI at Centurion on Wednesday. Conceding 15 wides to the extras total should be a sticking point in their debrief.
“As far as the fielding is concerned, we just have to make sure that when those opportunities come we take them,” said Bavuma.
SA will have to make changes, as they go into the decider without the IPL-bound Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortjé, Lungi Ngidi and David Miller.