South Africa had one tour game before the ODI series against Sri Lanka begins on Sunday.
Straight off the bat, when we saw the team news, we were all dumbstruck that Heinrich Klaasen was “rested”, as it was put on social media.
Rested? Rested from what exactly? He didn’t feature at all in the Test series, he sat in the dressing room for two weeks doing nothing, so why did he need resting?
He is young and fearless, he can handle pressure, and he can play spin, how was he not in the playing XI? South Africa’s selectors received heavy criticism after the debacle that was the 2nd Test against Sri Lanka, and rightfully so. Did they honestly make the same mistake again?
Sport24News chief writer, Rob Houwing expressed his dismay at Klaasen’s exclusion due to “rest”, tweeting:
“Klaasen ‘rested’? He ‘rested’ for the whole Test series! And had been one of the few shafts of light in the home ODI series slaughter against India. Weird”
Cricket South Africa responded several hours later, saying:
“He is rested because he has a slight niggle”.
It would have been better for everyone concerned if CSA had made this niggle known before the match began, which would’ve saved them a lot of anger from fans.
Now back to the game.
South Africa gave their tried & tested opening pair of Hashim Amla & Quinton de Kock another go, in a bid to find some much needed form ahead of the one-day games. This plan didn’t work, de Kock was out, LBW on the 3rd ball of the innings, leaving South Africa on 0-1.
Amla (16), Duminy (19) and Markram (1) didn’t contribute much to the innings, leaving South Africa on 99-4 in the 15th over of the innings. Not a very good start. Something Protea fans are accustomed to nowadays.
The top five batsmen scored a combined 107 runs, and that was only thanks to captain Faf du Plessis, who played the captain’s innings, top scoring with 71. He stood in a 26 run partnership with David Miller, which steadied the innings for the Proteas. Miller went on to score 40 runs, in a 70 run stand with Reeza Hendricks, who made a wonderful 59 off 54 balls.
It was the final wicket partnership of 60 runs, between Willem Mulder and Junior Dala that propelled South Africa to their final total of 293 before Mulder was out for a brilliantly played 56 in the final over of the innings. Dala remained 19 not out.
Mulder, at only 20 years old, demonstrated such maturity in his innings, he showed the class and patience that is required at the highest level. He is definitely one to watch.
The bowlers had something to bowl to, for once, and Lungi Ngidi struck with the final ball of his 1st over when he bowled Shehan Jayasuriya for 1.
Sri Lanka then recovered to 60, as Test opener Dimush Karunarate and Dhananjaya de Silva put on a 58 run stand before the new kid on the block, Mulder came into the attack and struck with his 4th delivery to dismiss de Silva for 36.
South Africa’s bowlers then chipped away at regular intervals to dismiss the Sri Lankan Board XI for 230, as Mulder (3-12) and Shamsi (3-41) got the bulk of the wickets. Junior Dala (2-45) and JP Duminy (1-16) were the other wicket-takers.
Karunaratne has continued on his great form from the Test series into the limited overs format, he scored 50 runs, while Isuru Udana top scored for the Sri Lankans with 53, down the order.
South Africa won the match by 63 runs, and they now have some decisions to make ahead of the 1st ODI on Sunday. Are they going to give QDK another go? Or does he need a bit of time away to rediscover his form?
Is Phehlukwayo warranted a place in the final XI? With only 2 runs to his name and figures of 0-27 off 4 overs, is he the all-rounder they are searching for? I would hope not. Whilst I love his passion and fight, I think he needs to hone in his skills a bit more and get a bit more accuracy.
The team I would play in the 1st ODI on Sunday is:
Amla, Hendricks, Markram, Duminy, Faf, Miller, Klaasen, Mulder, Rabada, Maharaj, Shamsi.
The first ODI begins on Sunday 29th July at 06:15 SA time.