Phehluk­wayo hopes to help the Proteas re­deem them­selves

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - LUNGANI ZAMA

SOUTH AFRICA made one change over the course of their three matches at the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy.

It came in the last game, ne­ces­si­tated by events against Pak­istan. Andile Phehluk­wayo made his tour­na­ment bow at The Oval, against an In­dian side with ev­ery­thing to play for.

Though the match was in neu­tral South London, Phehluk­wayo could be for­given for think­ing it was an away game.

“Dur­ing the an­thems, it re­ally felt like an away. We couldn’t even see any South Africans in the stands,” he said upon re­flec­tion this week.

“We spoke about the fact that we had to give each other lots of en­ergy from within, be­cause it wasn’t go­ing to come from the crowd,” he ex­plained.

The ex­u­ber­ance of youth on such oc­ca­sions can get a bit out of con­trol, and Phehluk­wayo ad­mit­ted that he did over-run the first ball that came to him in the field.

“Eish, I knew it was com­ing to­wards me at fine-leg, but I went too quickly! I over’,-ran it, and it ob­vi­ously went for four. “

The In­dian stand be­hind him tore into him, which was as much as he ex­pected. There is a time and a place to over­run a cricket ball, and the The Oval against In­dia isn’t one of them.

He did set­tle be­yond that, though, and en­joyed the chal­lenge of bowl­ing to Shikhar Dhawan and Vi­rat Kohli.

“On this trip, I have re­ally en­joyed the chal­lenge of bowl­ing to top-class bat­ters”

There have been a few, too. Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and the omi­nous Ben Stokes for Eng­land, and then Kohli in full flow for In­dia.

“I haven’t played in Eng­land with the se­nior guys be­fore, as I came for an un­der 19 tour,” he ex­plained.

“The con­di­tions do vary around the coun­try, and I have learnt a lot. To dif­fer­ent bats­men, you have cer­tain plans, as com­pared to oth­ers,” he pointed out.

The mar­gins, as he learnt, are fright­fully small at the sharpest end of the game. But, if there is one thing that has al­ready im­pressed his peers, it is that the Glen­wood High prod­uct re­fuses to shy away from the pres­sure mo­ments.

He wants the ball, and skip­per AB de Vil­liers has been happy to em­ploy him in the death bowl­ing role. Against In­dia, it never got to that point, be­cause there were not enough runs on the board.

Now, with Eng­land also knocked out of the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, both they and the Proteas will be look­ing for some confidence in the T20 se­ries.

Phehluk­wayo ex­pects to play a role, and he wants to con­trib­ute his fair share, too.

This mis­sion was al­ways go­ing to be an educational one for Phehluk­wayo, and he’s had to do it fast. He ad­mits the pres­sure that comes with be­ing in this team is very clear, and the dis­ap­point­ment of not liv­ing up to the stan­dards of the past year over the past fort­night have hurt.

But, like the rest of the squad, there is a grim de­ter­mi­na­tion to show up in the T20 se­ries, and at least re­store some pride.

Eng­land have their own is­sues, of course, so the who mat­ter be­comes a lot feistier now.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to the T20 se­ries. So far on this tour, we’ve played well in glimpses,” he ad­mit­ted.

“So we are look­ing for­ward to ty­ing to put to­gether that per­fect game,” he warned.

“I’m also keen to con­trib­ute , be it ei­ther bat or ball.”

The Proteas are rest­ing a host of Test players, so more will be ex­pected from those al­ready in the 50-over squad.

Phehluk­wayo is one of those, and his job is to prove that he is learn­ing with ev­ery match, and ca­pa­ble of be­ing the next po­ten­tial match-win­ner.

He reck­ons he’s well up for the task.

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