A psychological blow is now key
The Proteas can strike a major psychological blow before the T20 World Cup if they beat England in the second and decisive T20 match at the Wanderers in Johannesburg today.
A win will clinch the series 2-0 for the Proteas and give them an early sense of psychological domination over England for the big tournament starting in India next month. Crucially, South Africa’s first match in the tournament is against England.
On Friday night at Newlands, the Proteas took the first step, albeit a shaky one, to another series win over the visitors. This after the team clinched the one-day series 3-2, after being 2-0 behind.
Since 2015, the Proteas have lost only two T20 matches out of 11, one of which was undecided.
England scored a modest 134/8 in Cape Town and the Proteas will again try to restrict them to a low score.
A much stronger batting performance will be expected from captain Faf du Plessis and his teammates today. A few glitches will also have to be ironed out.
It was again a case of the middle order collapsing, which nearly robbed the team of victory. Although Du Plessis and JP Duminy recorded the biggest partnership of the match, they looked anything but comfortable at the crease.
With Quinton de Kock being rested due to a minor injury, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla should again open the innings for South Africa today. De Villiers does not look at his best right now and it is hoped that he will recover his T20 form in time. Considering that he made a fine century in the final ODI, one wouldn’t bet against him.
England overplayed their hand somewhat with the way they batted on Friday, and it would be no surprise if they batted a little more conservatively today to prevent a series defeat.
However, Du Plessis is happy that his team has a chance to strike the first psychological blow before the teams meet in the T20 World Cup in March.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
“We want to try to keep the psychological scars there because we will meet again in the tournament.”
He conceded there were mistakes made by both teams and they had tried to sort these out before today. The mistakes robbed the first T20 match of some of its attractiveness, yet the game came to an exciting conclusion, with South Africa hitting the winning runs off the last ball, aided in no small measure by England fumbling a clear run-out chance.
After today’s game, the Proteas will play three T20s against Australia in which they can prepare further for the tournament on the subcontinent. A few try-outs, especially in the batting line-up, will still be on the cards for the South African team.
Today, however, is the last chance for England to show their mettle in a competitive match and to make any impression before the World Cup.
The game starts at 2.30pm and will be broadcast live on SS2 and SABC3.
CONFIDENT The Proteas’ T20 captain, Faf du Plessis, is out to win the series against England