Proteas pun­ished

Bats­men’s poor form sees them give their wick­ets cheaply in pur­suit of a mod­est tar­get

The Independent on Saturday - - SPORT -

THE AS­SESS­MENT of yes­ter­day’s per­for­mance by the Proteas in the sec­ond One-Day In­ter­na­tional will be brief and blunt: The bat­ting was aw­ful and Aus­tralia were gifted what was for them a much-needed win.

Of course, South Africa cap­tain Faf du Plessis and coach Ot­tis Gib­son will also point to an­other poor fin­ish with the ball, which saw South Africa hand Aus­tralia’s last two wick­ets 44 runs – fol­low­ing on from the 45 given up in the first match – af­ter they’d again dom­i­nated the frag­ile home bat­ting line-up.

How­ever, their own frail­ties with the bat were plain to see, and it’s a con­cern de­spite the fact they are miss­ing se­nior pros Hashim Amla and JP Du­miny.

This is the se­ries where Ai­den Markram, Reeza Hen­dricks and Hein­rich Klaasen must stake a World Cup claim.

It’s where Quin­ton de Kock gets to show he is in fact a se­nior player and can play with the req­ui­site re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is the se­ries where who­ever is given the No 7 spot in the bat­ting or­der needs to per­form com­pe­tently with both bat and ball.

None of those things hap­pened yes­ter­day and it re­sulted in a seven run de­feat that sets up a se­ries de­cider in Ho­bart to­mor­row.

“That’s a tough pill to swal­low,” said Du Plessis, whose 74-run fifth wicket partnership with David Miller had been the only pe­riod when the tourists looked in con­trol with the bat.

Last Sun­day’s win in Perth was the blue­print for how South Africa wants to play its 50-over cricket, but yes­ter­day’s dis­play is ex­actly what ev­ery­one fears for the Proteas in the post-AB de Vil­liers era.

The top or­der is out of or­der and has been for most of this year; even Amla is only av­er­ag­ing 28.63 in 2018 while De Kock is av­er­ag­ing 35.88 and has scored just two 50s.

Markram and Hen­dricks are scor­ing at be­low 30 runs an in­nings, which is plac­ing ex­tra pressure on the mid­dle or­der, where Klaasen has failed to build on the good start he made in the in­ter­na­tional arena against In­dia ear­lier this year. Out of form is one thing, how­ever; yes­ter­day most of the bats­men just gave their wick­ets away in pur­suit of a mod­est tar­get of 232.

Only Hen­dricks could claim to be the vic­tim of good bowl­ing; the oth­ers were ei­ther too ca­sual (De Kock, Klaasen and Pre­to­rius) or in Markram’s case, tech­ni­cally lethar­gic as he got him­self run out with­out know­ing where the fielder throw­ing the ball was be­cause he turned with his back to the fielder go­ing for a third run and was then too slow to re­act to his part­ner Hen­dricks’ call.

Markram has been in­volved in too many runs-outs in his short in­ter­na­tional ca­reer.

As was the case in Perth, he looked in ex­cel­lent touch, no more clearly demon­strated than by a dis­dain­ful six he hit off a 150km/h de­liv­ery from Mitchell Starc. That good start was wasted how­ever, leav­ing Du Plessis and Miller to at­tempt a res­cue act.

“Dave and I were han­dling things well out there and we just needed to take it a lit­tle bit deeper,” he said.

Du Plessis was out in the 30th over, at which point South Africa needed just 90 to win.

How­ever, the Proteas’ lengthy tail and some gutsy cap­taincy from his op­po­site num­ber Aaron Finch, who bowled out his quicks, saw them come up short.

Du Plessis is of the be­lief at this stage seam­ers Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Kag­iso Rabada – to­gether with Im­ran Tahir – of­fer him the best chance of win­ning.

And they were good again yes­ter­day, at­tack­ing re­lent­lessly, never giv­ing Aus­tralia’s bats­men a mo­ment’s re­lief.

They can bowl as well as they like though, be­cause if the bats­men don’t do their jobs – which has too of­ten been the case in the last year – then the Proteas will lose more than they win.

“I don’t be­lieve (Aus­tralia’s) score was wor­thy of win­ning, we let our­selves down,” said Du Plessis.

“I’m very, very dis­ap­pointed with how we bat­ted, but with games com­ing around so quickly, you have to make sure you leave your dis­ap­point­ment in the change room and re­fo­cus on Sun­day,” the SA skip­per added.

To­mor­row’s de­cid­ing ODI is an­other day/night af­fair start­ing at 4.50am SA time.

The sides then play a one-off T20 on the Gold Coast next Satur­day (10.20am start). JEREMY Brockie says he feels like he’s just turned over a new leaf af­ter scor­ing his first official goal for Mamelodi Sun­downs – 13 months af­ter join­ing them from crosstown ri­vals Su­perS­port United.

The Kiwi-born striker was be­com­ing frus­trated with him­self for shooting blanks and was be­gin­ning to spend more time ei­ther on the bench or in the stands as coach Pitso Mosi­mane had to make do with other op­tions.

“The hard­est part was to try and deal with this men­tal­ity,” Brockie said a day af­ter break­ing his duck in Sun­downs’ 3-1 vic­tory over Free State Stars on Wed­nes­day at Lof­tus.

“Since I ar­rived in the coun­try in 2015 I have been scor­ing con­sis­tently and then I got the move that I wanted to Sun­downs. I knew it was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, but I thought I would have adapted a lit­tle bit quicker.”

Sun­downs host Pi­rates this af­ter­noon in a top of the ta­ble clash.

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