ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: New-look South Africa yet to lose a series in 2022. South Africa drew (2-2) against India, won (2-1) against England and won (2-0) against Ireland.
Perhaps, a week before the start of the series, they were still trying to fix the role of few players and the loss at Bristol during the first T20I of the series was an instance when their fragile fielding cost them dearly; Jonny Bairstow was dropped four times in the game. Read it right, four!!!
All vital boxes are ticked for the Proteas before the mega event
South Africa lost the first T20I game against England by a big margin of 41 runs but their pride was salvaged thanks to late fireworks by young Tristan Stubbs. It felt that the side is going to face myriad issues in various departments during the mega event. But just 96 hours later, the tables were turned as England were thrashed in all departments by the visiting side to make the latter victorious in the series.
From the situation they began the third T20I game when opener Quinton de Kock dragged the ball on to the stumps for a three-ball duck, to the position they clinched the series when captain David Miller caged an easy catch to send back last man Jonny Bairstow, South Africa wrote a new chapter in their cricketing story.
“We have gone through changes as a team, it’s not because of lack of trying,” South Africa captain David Miller summed up the team’s thought process after the series. “Guys are desperate to get back in top form, any time there is a world cup, you are excited as a group.”
A look at South Africa’s batting and bowling departments which are equipped with proper back-up options makes them a team to beat during October’s ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.
Hendricks, Rossouw, Miller, Stubbs - Powerful Protea batting line-up
There was a phase for South African cricket when they struggled for a few series in the batting department when some of their masterclass batters in the shortest format took retirement. However, they have sorted this problem; against India, their batters batted well even on the slow decks as they posted three 145+ scores in the series.
Their long batting line-up helps them to be bold and aggressive in nature from the first ball to the last ball. To add to that, they have somehow covered the bases too with ample number of back-up players.
To begin the innings, Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks have partnered as a fearsome opening combination. Even though the former hasn’t been in great form scoring just 53 runs in his six games against India and England, Reeza Henricks, after a poor series against India with just 27 runs in three innings, polished his art to secure 180 runs at a strike rate of 156.52 in the three games against England.
Rilee Rossouw has come back for the Proteas after a gap of almost seven years and gathered 131 runs in three games against England at a strike rate of 170.13. His 61-ball 87-run partnership with Aiden Markram, who made 51 in 36 in his only innings of the series was a crucial one for South Africa.
All of their efforts received the right result due to David Miller’s fiery 41 off 17 balls. The player whose mention was missed till now was the 21-year-old Tristan Stubbs, who stunned the world with his 28-ball 72 in the first T20I against England in Bristol, where he celebrated a 19-ball half-century.
To go with the backup options, they still have the likes of Rassie van der Dussen and Heinrich Klassen who on his lone shoulders took South Africa over the line against India. Waiting in the mix, perhaps the name few might have forgotten is South Africa’s regular T20I captain, Temba Bavuma, who was ruled out of the series due to an injury.
Solid all-rounders for a strong side
For any side to do well, one of the most vital aspect is having proper all-rounders; the players coming at number six or seven who have the ability to smash the ball long besides being able to bowl those necessary two-three overs make a massive difference in the shortest format.
Andile Phehlukwayo has done this job for South Africa for such a long time while he has a great backup option in the form of Dwaine Pretorius, who in patches has done well in this department.
Having two to three pacers and two spinners, in the form of Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj, South Africa has six bowling options always in the side. To add more cushion, Aiden Markram can chip with a few overs too, if required. All these things combine to keep the best balance in the team.
Rabada, Ngidi to Maharaj, Shamsi - The ethical balance of pace and spin
South Africa’s bowling unit is clicking in the best way. The pace attack consists of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, while the spin department is about Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, who is at present the second-ranked T20I bowler.
In the first T20I game at Bristol, amidst all the chaos around Jonny Bairstow, most of the eyes missed the brilliance of Lungi Ngidi, who on that small ground ended with figures of 5-39 in four overs; In a game that sizzled with 427 runs in 40 overs, Ngidi’s figures were nothing short of gold; all of his wickets were dangerous top order shot makers.
He was well-partnered by Rabada who held one end up drying the runs helping his bowling mates to pick up wickets from the other end.
Talking of the spinners, Keshav Maharaj is a different bowler; someone who doesn’t always go for wickets rather slows up the opponents’ batting early on. Then there is Tabraiz Shamsi, who displayed how he could make a comeback in the series even after having a forgettable outing.
In the same Bristol T20I game, Shamsi was thrown all around the park for 49 runs in just three overs. In the very next game at another small ground in Cardiff, Shamsi picked up three wickets for just 27 runs, before depositing his maiden five-wicket haul as he recorded 5-24 in four overs in the last T20I game.
The South African bowling combination has been built up with various resources; they have a left-arm spinner along with a left-arm chinaman bowler. All these factors including the batters and all-rounders have positioned them at the top and made them a team to beat in October’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
South Africa will again take on India in a three-match T20I series starting from September 28 at Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. They will fly from there to Australia for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, where they will play their opening game on October 24 in Hobart.