In the second ODI between South Africa and neighbours Zimbabwe, we saw the return of Dale Steyn to the one day format. He had last played an ODI for South Africa in October 2016, so this was a welcomed return for such a legend of the game.
South Africa, once again won the toss and this time, JP Duminy elected to bat first. This was the right decision, as his inexperienced batting line-up needed exposure and time in the middle.
Kagiso Rabada was rested for this match, to make way for Dale Steyn, and some were questioning the decision to rest him. If you know anything about Cricket, and have been following South African Cricket for the past couple of years, you will know how much time KG has spent on the field, how many overs he’s bowled, how many runs he’s scored, and how many times he’s been called upon by his captain to save his team, and delivered. With such a hectic 9 months ahead, with tours by Pakistan and Sri Lanka, followed by the all-important Cricket World Cup next May in the UK, it is absolutely right that KG be rested now.
Wiaan Mulder suffered an injury during training on Tuesday and was unable to play the 2nd ODI, Khaya Zondo was named as his replacement, meaning the Proteas were a bowler short, which captain Duminy didn’t mind so much, saying at the toss:
“I guess the fifth bowler’s responsibility lies on me. I want to take on that responsibility”
Let’s get to the match itself.
Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar opened the batting. Elgar once again failed to make an impression and bolster his chances of obtaining a World Cup spot, he lasted 7 deliveries before getting an outside edge through to the keeper for 4. Things got worse for South Africa, as six balls later, Reeza Hendricks got a ball that kept low and was clean bowled for 1, South Africa were now 9-2.
While wickets were falling at the other end, young Aiden Markram, looked at ease in the middle. He had moved onto 17 and started to form a partnership with Heinrich Klaasen, who was struggling for momentum at his end and feeling the pressure of not scoring. The pressure took it’s toll and he tried going for an expansive stroke that went straight to Mire at mid-wicket, he was gone for 1 off 13 deliveries.
Markram was still there, still scoring, and joined now by Khaya Zondo, the pair put on 23 runs before Markram went for a short and wide ball, and got an edge to keeper, Brendon Taylor. Markram was gone for a well-played 35 and South Africa were 49-4. It was a dismissal that was disappointing for Markram, he did all the hard work, got himself in, and gave it away when his team needed him to just bat time and overs.
Christaan Jonker, playing only his 2nd one day international, played possibly the only way he knows how, attack. He got out to an extremely rash stroke for 25 off 19 deliveries. Whilst Jonker may be in the team for his big hitting abilities, it was down-right foolish for him to get out the way he did, with his team in desperate need of a good solid partnership.
The misery didn’t end there, as Zondo, who had been playing well, decided attack was the best form of defence and tried going for a big shot, stretched too far forward and was stumped for 21. South Africa were 92-6.
This is why Duminy wanted to give his batsmen the chance to bat first, this is why he kept shifting himself down the order. He was doing the right thing as captain, because he wanted to give the inexperienced batsmen the chance to know what it takes to get out of trouble, to know what it takes to fight for your runs. Some were saying that as the captain, Duminy should’ve come out and steadied the ship, but these young and inexperienced batsmen can’t be sheltered all their careers, they have to learn how to consolidate and play the patience game.
Klaasen, Markram, Jonker & Zondo all failed to learn this lesson.
On his return to the one day team, Dale Steyn scored his maiden ODI half-century as he and Andile Phehlukwayo put on a 75 run partnership that guided South Africa to a respectable score, one they could bowl to. They came together with the Proteas on 101-7, and by the time the partnership was broken, had gotten South Africa to 176-8. Well batted by Phehlukwayo, who showed the right character and skill that was needed in this innings.
Steyn batted with such brilliance. He picked the bowlers well, he picked his shots well, and he and Phehlukwayo ran well. He became the fourth South African to score a half-century at no.9.
South Africa were bowled out for 198 in 47.3 overs. It was shambolic for South Africa to be bowled out without batting their full 50 overs.
To put it into context, the first four Protea batsmen put on a combined 41 runs, the last 4 batsmen put on a combined 93 runs. This is unacceptable from the top order. There is no adaptability, application or resolve to stay at the crease and fight for runs.
It was down to the bowlers once again to save their blushes. They delivered, again.
Steyn bowled with great accuracy, hostility and pace, going at 145km/h, he caused the opening Zimbabwe batsmen all sorts of trouble, and was rewarded with two early wickets, one thanks to a remarkable blinder of a catch from Andile Phehlukwayo at mid-wicket
Imran Tahir, who before the match began was quoted as saying:
“I am trying to go as long as I can, I want to make sure I enjoy my game and I give what the team requires from me”
He was magnificent, taking 6-24 which included his first hat-trick in ODI Cricket.
South Africa ran through the Zimbabwe batting line-up to bowl them out for 78 in 24 overs and won by 120 runs, and took the series 2-0.
Dale Steyn was quite rightly Man of the Match for his all-round performance, but special mention to Tahir for his incredible bowling and passion.
With only one more game to play in this series before the Proteas head down under, they are nowhere closer to answering the questions they had on their batting than they had at the start of the series.
For now though, we can revel in the fact that Steyn is back.
The final game of the series is at Paarl on Saturday 6th October at 1pm SA time.