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T20 World Cup 2024: SA's middle order enable them to win 3 in 3

T20 World Cup 2024: South Africa's middle-order have heavily contributed to their success in the torunament so far. David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen and Tristan Stubbs are the pillar of SA's middle order.

T20 World Cup 2024: David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen during a partnership | Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©ICC_X)
T20 World Cup 2024: Miller, Klaasen during a partnership (Photo: ©ICC/X)

The USA leg of the ninth edition of the T20 World Cup 2024 has been a closely fought one. This is especially true for the games at the Nassau County International Stadium at New York. This venue has played host to six games thus far (excluding Pakistan-Canada game) and the average total here is just 106, which is significantly low.

  

While the highest total posted at New York is 137/7, achieved by Canada against Ireland, Sri Lanka’s 77 is the lowest. So, it is safe to say that batters have found it hard to get going and a Test match temperamental batting is needed to succeed at New York.


Teams belonging to Groups A & D have their bases set in America for the group stages, particularly the Nassau County Stadium. The batters from these teams are the ones who had to overcome the hard grind and one such team are South Africa.


The Proteas led by Aiden Markram have won all their three Group D games - against Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Bangladesh. As a result, they are comfortably placed at the top of their group and are sure to move to the next round, i.e. Super 8s. 


Failure of the Top-3 batters characterise SA’s campaign   

However, the way they won each of those games shows it is not smooth sailing. Like every team at this venue, South Africa batters too have faced challenges, especially their upper order.


In all the games they won, one common feature is the combined failure of their top-3 batters. The men in question are Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks and skipper Aiden Markram. In nine combined outings between the three, they have managed to score just 57 runs with each grabbing a duck once. 


While the start was decent enough (51/3) in a 78-run chase against Sri Lanka, the games against Netherlands and Bangladesh saw SA’s first three wickets falling at scores of 3 and 23, respectively. This almost got them to a stage where they could have lost if not for a resilient effort from the middle order.



Klaasen, Miller and Stubbs: the star trio 

In all those victories, the hands of this trio - Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller and Tristan Stubbs, cannot be taken for granted. Invariably, at least two of the aforementioned players’ contributions have been key in the victories. 


While it was an excellent 51-ball 59 from David Miller and his 65-run stand with Tristan Stubbs (33) that took them past Netherlands’ 103, Heinrich Klaasen’s patient 46 was instrumental in SA getting to a winning total (113) against Bangladesh.


T20 World Cup 2024_ David Miller is the highest run-getter for South Africa so far _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©ICC_X)
Miller is the highest run-getter for South Africa so far (Photo: ©ICC/X)
How did the trio succeed?

If we take a closer look at each of the trio’s match-winning knocks, it has been a complete shift away from their natural games. Their strength is in taking the attack to the opposition. But here, they have played according to the conditions and that is to curb their attacking instinct. 


David Miller’s 51-ball 59 is a classic example. A batter with a career strike rate of 141.94 in T20Is absorbed all the pressure after coming in at 12/4 against Netherlands and used all his experience in getting the team home. The left-hander knew application was needed to score in these conditions and he just did that, which the upper order batters failed to do.


Likewise, Klaasen, who is usually a destructive player with a marvellous strike rate of over 140, toned down his game against Bangladesh. On a testing batting surface, he made a patient 46 from 44 balls and this proved to be match-winning in the end.


So, it is safe to say that the middle-order has been a saving grace for SA’s top-3 failures in this World Cup. One good thing is that the Proteas are scheduled to play rest of their games in the Caribbean and the surfaces there are more hospitable to the batters.


With that being said, South Africa will need new batting heroes in this tournament. They can’t always rely on the likes of Klaasen, Miller and Stubbs to bail them out of trouble going forward in the tourney.


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