New game and a new start for Proteas

We’re no longer a one-man team, says Keshav

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - ZAAHIER ADAMS [email protected]

KESHAV Ma­haraj has of­fered sim­ple and ba­sic ad­vice to his Proteas team­mates: “It’s im­por­tant that we start each game like it’s the first game of a se­ries.”

While it may not sound like the most strate­gic of game plans, it is es­sen­tial that South Africa learn to repli­cate the per­for­mances they de­liver in the open­ing game of se­ries.

On three oc­ca­sions this sum­mer they have taken the lead in the opener, only to lose mo­men­tum as the se­ries pro­gressed.

“The first game is gone and it was an ex­cep­tional ef­fort from the guys,” Ma­haraj said ahead of the se­cond one­day in­ter­na­tional against Aus­tralia to­day.

“We’ll take the positives from the pre­vi­ous game and build on the ar­eas we can im­prove.

“It’s a new game and a new start. For us to play con­sis­tent cricket‚ it’s im­por­tant that we start each game like it’s the first game of a se­ries.”

Quin­ton de Kock’s team were cer­tainly a much-im­proved unit at Boland Park over the week­end. Ma­haraj’s re­call after an 18-month ab­sence from the ODI team had a ma­jor im­pact on the bowl­ing unit.

It gave De Kock the op­tion to take pace off the ball in the pow­er­play by in­tro­duc­ing Ma­haraj into the at­tack early on. The Paarl Rocks used a sim­i­lar tac­tic with fel­low Proteas lef­t­arm spin­ner Bjorn For­tuin with huge suc­cess in the Mzansi Su­per League at Boland Park.

Plenty of what the Proteas’ did right on Satur­day ac­tu­ally came from the Rocks’ play­book. Left-arm wrist spin­ner Tabraiz Shamsi was ex­cel­lent in the mid­dle overs – just like he is for the Rocks – and tied the Aus­tralian mid­dle or­der into knots.

There was a third Rocks cham­pi­onship win­ner in Kyle Ver­reynne who showed the rest of the Proteas bat­ting unit how to adapt to a slow sur­face.

All sea­son the Proteas have re­lied solely on De Kock for their source of runs, but Ver­reynne showed there are oth­ers who can be de­pended on too.

Ver­reynne’s con­fi­dence fil­tered through to the rest of the bat­ting unit, with Hein­rich Klaasen and David Miller pros­per­ing as well. It cer­tainly showed that SA have more ar­rows in their quiver be­sides De Kock.

“Quinny has been our bat­ting stal­wart for a long time‚ but it just showed that with the young­sters in our side like Kyle Ver­reynne‚ he put his hand up and made a vi­tal 48,” Ma­haraj said.

“David Miller came through with his ex­pe­ri­ence. Hein­rich’s played a hand­ful of in­ter­na­tional games‚ but the ma­tu­rity he showed in his in­nings and how he paced him­self looked like he’s been there for a long time.

“We’re com­ing out of the phase where we’re no longer a one-man team. We play as a team and guys are putting their hands up in var­i­ous games‚ which is pos­i­tive and im­por­tant for us.”

The per­for­mance of the mid­dle or­der was even more pleas­ing con­sid­er­ing Aus­tralia had re­duced the home team to 48/3. The left-arm spin­ner be­lieves the Aus­tralians did not let their guard down and will come back even stronger in Bloem­fontein to­day.

“You could see in the way they started that noth­ing was taken for granted. Klaasen and Miller played ex­cep­tion­ally well to take us to the score we had. They’ve got a world­class bat­ting line-up and Lungi (Ngidi) ran through that bat­ting or­der and made life a bit eas­ier for our bowlers at the back end‚” Ma­haraj said. Squads for Bloem­fontein Proteas: Quin­ton de Kock (cap­tain), Temba Bavuma, David Miller, Kag­iso Rabada, Andile Phehluk­wayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Beu­ran Hen­dricks, Hein­rich Klaasen, Jan­ne­man Malan, JonJon Smuts, An­rich Nortje, Lutho Si­pamla, Keshav Ma­haraj, Kyle Ver­reynne.

Aus­tralia: Aaron Finch (c), Ash­ton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cum­mins (vc), Josh Ha­zle­wood, Mar­nus Labuschagn­e, Mitch Marsh, Jhye Richard­son, Kane Richard­son, D’Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Start: 1:30pm TV: SS2 and Sabc3

| CHARLE LOM­BARD Back­pagePix

KESHAV MA­HARAJ ad­dresses the me­dia dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at Man­gaung Oval yes­ter­day.

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