South Africa started this ODI series knowing there are only 21 matches left before their opening World Cup game against England, next May.
Sri Lankan captain, Angelo Mathews won the toss and elected to bat first. South Africa started off very well with Kagiso Rabada striking in his first two overs, dismissing Sri Lankan opener, Dickwella for 2 with only his 3rd ball of the match, and then Mendis in his next over for 3, to leave Sri Lanka on 12-2.
One of the ODI specialists brought to this series, JP Duminy then did a brilliant bit of fielding to enforce the run-out of Upal Tharanga with a direct hit for 10, to leave Sri Lanka teetering along on 22-3. Ngidi then got his only wicket of the innings when he dismissed captain Angelo Mathews for 5, and in the next over, Rabada inflicted further damage when he had Jayasuriya caught behind for a duck to leave Sri Lanka on the very perilous position of 36-5.
Then the bowling change came in the 11th over, with Wiaan Mulder getting first change and going for 16 runs in his 1st over. Both all-rounders, Phehlukwayo and Mulder were very expensive, going at 11 and 10 runs an over, respectively.
Sri Lanka, who were 54-5 when these two came into the attack, moved onto 120-5 when they were taken out of the attack six overs later. Kusal Perera had moved onto 42* and Thisara Perera 41*, as they put on 66 runs in the 6 overs the all-rounders were bowling.
Faf taking them both out of the attack, which in the context of the game was correct, but with only 21 games left for South Africa to find their best XI, was this the right decision?
Faf was quoted as saying on the ICC website ahead of the 1st ODI:
“I personally don’t look at winning the next few series as the be-all and the end-all. It is trying to find out how we can give guys opportunities, how they can get experience and what they can learn from different scenarios”
If Faf truly meant this, and if these are the all-rounders they have identified as being key players to their World Cup plans, then why didn’t he give Mulder and Phehlukwayo the opportunity to learn from this scenario of how to come back from a tough first spell? This is a skill that will be very important, how they deal with set-back, how they deal with coming back and proving themselves.
Mulder is very young and has had very little experience at the highest level, so you can understand his trouble in his 1st spell. It would have been a good learning opportunity for him to come back for a 2nd spell and improve.
Phehlukwayo on the other hand, has played 26 ODIs and has a bowling average of 38.65, and an economy of over 5 runs an over. At his gentle medium pace, he is cannon fodder for a quality batting line up. If he wants to become a genuine bowling all-rounder, he needs to work on increasing his pace and accuracy.
Spin was then introduced into the attack and Tabraiz Shamsi struck immediately, getting Thisara Perera for a well played 49. Duminy was brought in at the other end and together they pulled things back brilliantly for South Africa. Sri Lanka were bowled out for a sub-par 193 in 34.3 overs with Shamsi (4-33) and Rabada (4-41) the main wicket-takers.
South Africa’s chase started well, with Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla getting to 31 before Amla was dismissed by a ripper from Dananjaya for 19. Aiden Markram came out to bat at 3 and unfortunately for him, his terrible tour continued. He was out for a first-ball duck to Dananjaya who was now on a hat-trick and South Africa, in trouble on 31-2. Faf survived the hat-trick ball and he and de Kock took South Africa to the lunch interval on 37-2.
Both de Kock and Faf played beautifully after lunch, both playing the spinners well and confidently and both getting dismissed for 47. Faf’s dismissal will have him asking himself what he was doing. He played the most ridiculous shot I’ve ever seen.
Enter JP Duminy, who played a very fine innings. He scored his 26th ODI fifty, and he looked very comfortable at the crease, playing his sweep shots and playing all around the ground with ease. It’s been no secret that Duminy hasn’t been my favourite player, but if he keeps playing like this, I’ll be very happy.
Wiaan Mulder came to the crease after the dismissal of David Miller, who looked a bit rusty at the crease making only 10. South Africa required 22 runs for victory and Mulder played some stunning shots to finish on 14* off 11 deliveries as Duminy (53*), hit the winnings runs while bringing up his half century as South Africa won by 5 wickets.
South Africa finally got a win on this tour. Long may it continue.
The Proteas lead the five-match series 1-0 and I would suggest that they make two changes for the next match.
I would replace Phehlukwayo with Junior Dala. I think Phehlukwayo needs to gain some pace and improve his consistency before he’s considered for selection, and I would replace Markram with Heinrich Klaasen. Markram needs to figure out how to play spin.
My team for the 2nd ODI would be:
de Kock, Hendricks, Amla, Faf, Duminy, Mulder, Klaasen, KG, Ngidi, Shamsi, Dala
The 2nd ODI is on Wednesday 1st August.