Proteas showed familiar failings during T20 series against India
From the sublime to the ridiculous.
That’s the best way to describe the inconsistent performances of the Proteas in their T20 series against India that goes into the last match at Bengaluru on Sunday with the sides level at 2-2.
SA have only themselves to blame to be in this undesirable situation as they gave away a commanding 2-0 lead after comprehensive wins in Delhi and Cuttack at the beginning of the series.
All they needed was to win the third match and wrap up the series but familiar batting collapses and sometimes poor application by bowlers reared their ugly heads in Vizag and Rajkot to allow the hosts to level the series.
SA go into the fifth final match with the possibility of being without captain Temba Bavuma who retired hurt on 8 runs with a suspected elbow injury during their 82-run loss in the fourth match on Friday.
Team management said on Friday that Bavuma is being assessed by the medical team but the extent of his injury was not immediately clear.
India are enjoying momentum after dominant back-to-back victories and they are favourites to wrap up the series and leave SA with more questions than answers of how ready they are for the World Cup in Australia later in the year.
There have been sporadic good performances from Heinrich Klaasen, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller with the bat but not consistent enough.
Over the four matches, SA have failed to bowl out India with all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius the most wickets taker with five scalps, followed by Keshav Maharaj and Anrich Nortjé with four each.
SA played this series without on-form top-order batter Aiden Markram who tested positive for Covid-19 in India but he will be available when the team travels to England next month.
SA have a tough tour to England where they are scheduled to play three T20s, three ODIs and three Tests and they will also squeeze in two T20s against Ireland.
Speaking after Friday’s match, vice-captain Maharaj admitted that they fell short in most areas of the matches.
“I think the way the wicket started off was a bit of invariable bounce, some of them took off on excessively and the odd one kept low. Obviously the last five overs we conceded 70 odd runs and maybe we need to come up with better plans and executions.
“Maybe we could have held our lengths and lines a little bit longer. It’s a tough one, we can always clinch at different aspects of the game where we could have improved and hopefully crossed the line today.
“It’s back to the drawing board with regards to that and maybe we can come up with better tactics to try and combat the India middle and lower order. If you look at us, we had a bit of momentum in the first two matches and India got the momentum in the next two, it just makes it much more exciting to go to Bengaluru. The crowds have been amazing.
“It is also a good test to our team to see how far we have come, to play in events like this and to try and clinch the series against a strong India outfit. It is just to consistently hit our lengths and lines. We did that fairly well and it's back to the drawing for Sunday’s game and hopefully we will come back with new plans where we can try and be on the better side of things.”
Maharaj was full of praise for India’s main destroyers in Hardik Pandya and Avesh Khan.
“You saw why he is one of the leading performers in the IPL, he showed his class today. He is difficult to bowl to and fair play to him because he played exceptionally well,” he said of Pandey who scored a crucial 46 off 31.
“He adapted very well, he utiilised the conditions, kept it very simple and got the rewards for consistent and controlled bowling,” added Maharaj about Khan who ended with figures of 4/18.
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