Pretoria News Weekend

Proteas pay price for wrong selections

- STUART HESS

SOUTH AFRICA 144

Pakistan 149/7 PAKISTAN WON BY 3 WICKETS

Pakistan win series 3-1.

SOUTH Africa’s collective decision to pick a starting side for the fourth KFC T20 Internatio­nal yesterday, with just four frontline batsmen, was a very bad one.

It’s one thing to experiment with the compositio­n of the starting team, quite another to throw out the fundamenta­ls of a team’s structure to the extent that just Aiden Markram, Janneman Malan, Rassie van der Dussen and Heinrich Klaasen were chosen as frontline batsmen.

It meant George Linde came in at No 5, and while his form with the bat has been good both domestical­ly and for the national team, that position is definitely one and maybe two spots too high.

The collective selection decision - made between head coach Mark Boucher, his assistant Enoch Nkwe, selection convenor Victor Mpitsang and selector Patrick Moroney - gave stand-in skipper Heinrich Klaasen eight bowling options. While Boucher is right that a starting team can’t have only five bowling options, eight is too many, particular­ly when Klaasen only used five bowlers on Wednesday when he had seven at his disposal. Yesterday, he used seven bowlers.

The gamble - to put it politely - in choosing only four frontline batsmen, meant at least one of the quartet had to still be at the crease in the last four overs of the innings. It turned out they were all gone by the 14th over, with Van der Dussen’s 52, the best score of the lot.

Klaasen’s dismissal in the 13th over, meant Pakistan were into the South African tail, with three wickets down. Those last seven wickets were lost for the addition of just 32 runs in the space of six overs.

A sub-150 target was never going to be enough even though the pitch - the same one which dished up over 400 runs on Wednesday - wasn’t quite as batter friendly. The ball seemed to grip more yesterday, something Pakistan’s bowlers used cleverly.

Faheem Ashraf, who mixed up his pace cleverly, claimed 3/17, while the effervesce­nt Hassan Ali, also picked up three wickets although he conceded 40 runs.

South Africa, made two changes to the team that lost the third match, bringing Bjorn Fortuin back, and handing Wiaan Mulder a maiden T20 Internatio­nal cap, making him the fourth debutant South Africa have capped in the series.

Fortuin had Mohammad Rizwan stumped off a leg-side wide, but Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman appeared to take all the tension out of the chase with a partnershi­p of 91 for the second wicket, that saw Fakhar score 60 off only 34 balls.

But then like South Africa, Pakistan too suffered a collapse, losing six wickets for 37 runs. However Mohammad Nawaz kept his cool, scoring 25 off 21 balls, with two crucial sixes in the last two overs.

Sisanda Magala lost his composure, bowling two no-balls in the 19th over bringing his total for the series to seven - conceding 10 runs in the process.

For Pakistan this was a triumphant tour, as they won both the ODI and T20 series. Babar Azam has elevated his status on the global stage on this trip, while his confidence as a captain will also have increased.

For South Africa, there’ll be plenty of lessons. Boucher, as head coach will be under pressure, and while there are a number of mitigating circumstan­ces, a record of three wins in 15 T20 Internatio­nals since he was appointed in December 2019, is very concerning.

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