A psy­cho­log­i­cal blow is now key

CityPress - - Sport - LEIGHTON KOOP­MAN sports@city­press.co.za

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.

PHOTO: RICHARD HUG­GARD / GALLO IM­AGES

CON­FI­DENT The Proteas’ T20 cap­tain, Faf du Plessis, is out to win the se­ries against Eng­land

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