Keegan Petersen, top run-scorer (276), Marco Jansen, 2nd Highest wicket-taker (19 wkt) in the series against India.
On January 14, a beautiful boundary in the deep mid-wicket region from Temba Bavuma took South Africa to not only a 7-wicket victory but also a proud 2-1 victory over the mighty Indians. The victory tasted sweeter knowing how a young Protea side had thrashed an experienced Indian team.
Two future stars in the making
Two of the most prolific expected future stars to come out of the series are Keegan Petersen, a solid right-handed batter and probably South Africa’s new number three in whites, and Marco Jansen, a left-arm pacer who can bat decently.
Even though both started the series on a poor note; Petersen, in both innings of Centurion Test, got out playing away from his body, while Jansen didn’t make a difference to make any significant impact. But both of them ended the series on a high note; afterall, no one cares how a player starts but about how he progresses in his career.
Keegan Petersen: The kid who raises his hand for every job
(Mat-3, R- 276, Avg - 46.00, 50s - 3)
The player from Paarl, Keegan Petersen, can easily become an all-action cricket-figure; someone who bats, bowls and even keeps; even though South Africa is yet to enjoy his last two services but if needed, he will never take a backseat.
Taking gloves is his new development as Imraan Khan, his Dolphins coach, has spoken about his character. “It was put to him if it was a role he could be considered for if there was a need for it. He didn’t think twice.” Perhaps, those words explain Petersen’s positive attitude.
He never says no to any job he is offered; someone who had to change his town and domestic team few times just to get the perfect edge and facilities to make his name and South Africa’s focus on youngsters came to him like a golden opportunity.
The Wanderers innings that caught everyone’s eyes
Coming to the series, from the West Indies tour, he had no fair numbers to cement his place and the Centurion failure didn’t help him either. South Africa had lost an early wicket when Keegan Petersen crossed the boundary rope. There had been so many times he had either missed the ball or tried to flirt with a moving delivery as was the case with all the players in the series. But he stood tall against Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.
The more he stayed on the crease, the more confident he became. Some of the shots, whether it was the drive though extra cover or his favorite backward punch through the deep-point region, caught so many eyes and even made Hashim Amla, South Africa’s old number three praise those hits sitting in the commentary box. A calm 29-year-old Petersen was unperturbed by anything and was busy making his name against one of the best bowling attacks in the world. He reached a magnificent fifty, his first in his sixth innings.
But he failed to convert it to what could be a glorious hundred by nicking to the slips when he was on 62. Even in the second innings, when the first wicket fell for the hosts chasing 240, Petersen was the man who cooled down the atmosphere when the Indian team was charging in in a fiery mood.
The Heroics of Cape Town to take his team to series win
The series was nicely poised when the two teams reached Newlands; and again, he walked out with SA at 17-2 against India’s total of 223. Initially, he left the balls on merit but never missed out on scoring runs both on the frontfoot and backfoot. Wickets were falling on the other end but it hardly affected his concentration. The backfoot punch seemed to be invented for the right-hander. After a well-measured 72, a good 44 more than the second-best, he was dismissed as the scoreboard read 179-8.
Coming with the team at a low score was written in his fate, it looked like. Chasing 212 to keep history alive, he faced quality Indian bowling on a controversial evening. The next morning, January 14, 2021, he could have been out on the first ball as Shami delivered a ball calling “drive me”. He could have been out next ball that went past missing the stumps but he stood tall notching another half-century. Cheteshwar Pujara’ s dolly drop at slips helped him to reach 82 before chopping onto the stumps.
He left the field frustrated after missing on another chance to reach the three-figure mark but not before the whole crowd stood up on their feet acknowledging the youngster. South Africa had already paid a heavy price letting one Petersen (Kevin Pietersen) go to England; the request from the whole world is to preserve this Petersen who can serve the country for several years to come.
Marco Jansen: The story of bowling to the Indians before debut
(Mat-3, Wkt- 19, Avg - 16.47, BBM - 7/91)
When the Indian team visited South Africa in 2018, Marco Jansen with his brother was invited by India’s bowling coach, Bharat Arun, to bowl at some of the Indian batters in the net session at Wanderers. Marco beat Virat Kohli’s bat thrice and made life hard for some of the other Indian batters; he ended up with credible applause from the tourists.
Coming into the picture through IPL
It wasn’t the Centurion Test team sheet in Freedom Trophy 2021-22, when the Indians heard the name of Marco Jansen for the very first time. The Indian Premier League (IPL) auction table in 2021 had seen Mumbai Indians (MI) going for the left-armer for a base price of INR 20 lakhs. It did surprise many; the fans who knew about him were mostly from his country.
“We have been tracking him for the past two years,” Owner of the Mumbai-based franchise, Akash Ambani revealed. “We had a quiet word with Quinny (Quinton de Kock) and he said ‘you have to go for him, he is completely ready now’.”
Making his debut in the season opener, Jansen picked up two wickets including that of Glen Maxwell.
Since playing his first IPL season, South African cricket added him for their Pakistan tour and later on, handed him a Test debut cap due to the injury sustained by Duanne Olivier.
Scary bounce, movement and excellent aggression
After a decent Test match in SuperSport Park, Marco Jansen breathed fire in the Indian camp with 7 wickets in Johannesburg. The four wickets in the first innings were all reaped in different ways making a case of his alternate flavours in bowling. First, he drew Mayank Agarwal forward to get an outside edge while creating problems for KL Rahul with short balls before dismissing him in the long-leg region. Even in the second innings, he discharged the Indian stand-in skipper to the slips.
Nonetheless, the young pacer initially didn’t show too much in-your-face aggression with the ball bowling some bouncers but he didn’t take a back seat to utter some words after hitting Jasprit Bumrah on his head; the whole scenario showed that he is ready for big tours where only both mentally and physically strong players do well.
Ending the series being a popular member
In the series decider in Cape Town, he finished the series with 7 more wickets. In the first innings, he broke the good-looking partnership sending Pujara back with an outswinger and sent back the tail. Even in the second innings, he bowled wisely and with a certain plan and never looked to be a guy playing in his 3rd Test. With 19 wickets, Marco Jansen became the 2nd highest wicket-taker of the series behind Kagiso Rabada (20).
So, for South Africa, their future seriously is shaping solidly. If they can manage their two young bloods well for the future then both these lads can certainly write new chapters in the golden history of the Proteas.