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West Indies v South Africa T20I Series: Talking Points

West Indies v South Africa T20I Series: Talking Points – South Africa finished the tour of the Caribbean on a successful note winning the T20I series after winning the Test Series, but there are still areas of concern.

West Indies Proteas Talking Points

South Africa finished the West Indies tour on a successful note winning the T20I series after winning the Test Series, but there are still areas of concern. Quinton De Kock was the leading run-scorer of the tournament and looked like a man unburdened by captaincy, Rassie Van Der Dussen was not far behind and further cemented his place for the World Cup as the rock of the side. While Aiden Markram may well have played his way into the final XI as a hard-hitting batter and sixth bowler option which will be crucial in Asia. But outside of that, the batting was a mess and you think they’ll have more difficult times when the World Cup comes around. 

The bowlers on the other hand outside of Kagiso Rabada who was not at his best and Lungi Ngidi who was astonishingly expensive going for 10.94 per over throughout the series were a completely different story. Tabraiz Shamsi was magnificent both as a wicket-taker and when he was asked to keep things tight while Rabada, Nortje, Linde and Mulder (in the last T20) were a very good supporting act in this series all having good games in the series and finishing with good figures when the numbers were crunched. Rabada started poorly in the first couple of T20Is but that was an anomaly as he found his rhythm for the most part after that.

With that, all said let us look at the major talking points from the series.

Batting In Powerplay Is Outstanding

South Africa batting in the powerplay throughout the series was most impressive as it got SA off to a good start in pretty much every innings of the series, the fact that they faltered outside of the powerplay is another thing. Reeza Hendricks and Quinton De Kock both were impressively aggressive whether the Windies bowled spin or pace. De Kock was a class above in the entire batting order and especially in the third T20I where he made 71 off 52 balls. It looks like we know who the openers will be for the World Cup. Although Aiden Markram’s 70 in the final T20I has created an option for him.

Better Fielding Performance

Whether it was Reeza Hendricks on the mid-wicket boundary in the second T20I or Markram’s catch to dismiss Russell in the third T20I, the fielding has seen a massive improvement in the West Indies in the Tests and the T20Is. Both ground fielding and catching have seen a big improvement, which is something the side have not seen for the last three and a half years since Justin Ontong became the fielding coach. Things have got a lot better which is good to see. The national side has also improved its hitting of the stumps on a much more regular basis. Dropped catches like the one by Temba Bavuma in the third T20I and David Miller’s in the dourth have occurred but there has been a significant improvement.

Batting Outside Of Powerplay Concerning

While South Africa have done well in the opening powerplay, the batting outside of that has been a horror show. The guys who are known for their ability to clear the boundary like Heinrich Klaasen who averaged 8.50 with the bat with a strike rate of 73.91 and David Miller who averaged 7.33 with a strike rate of 108.33 have had extremely poor series. In general, over 6 to 15 South Africa have failed to score more than eight runs an over which has ended up restricting the side. It restricted South Africa so much that they were 28/4 in the last five overs in the second T20I, 36/5 in the third T20I, 37/4 in the fourth T20I and 32/2 in the fifth T20I.

It is also a conservative approach of picking predominately Test players who are not suited to the T20 format and where they want one of the top five to be there at the end of the innings. This is restricting them in their progress. T20 cricket is about taking risks and picking T20 specialists like Jason Roy of England or Paul Stirling of Ireland and South Africa are refusing to move with the times.

SA Still Too Reliant On Bowlers

After some subpar batting throughout the series where the batters did not reach 170, the bowlers either as a team or individually with the likes of George Linde and Tabriaz Shamsi rescued the side. This is a huge concern because they cannot keep relying on the bowlers, they will have bad days where they bowl poorly. We saw this overreliance exposed as recently as the World Cup in 2019. We may have the best T20I bowler in the world, but he cannot be relied on to perform in every game. Linde averaging 20.83 with an economy rate of 7.81 and Shamsi averaging 11.42 and an economy rate of 4.00 stand out like a sore thumb. Outstanding they have been, but they cannot be relied on forever.

South Africa Are Allergic To All-Rounders

When Dwaine Pretorius was removed from the squad because of covid and Wiaan Mulder was named his replacement it was obvious to most that Wiaan should come straight into the side to give the team that sixth bowler option when necessary and a nice balance with ability with the bat. But this team does not take the easy solution, they have chosen to go with six batters and five out and out bowlers as Wiaan was only selected in the final game and largely to the fact of Nortje and Magala being injured. Instead, we saw Reeza bowl an over in the series that went for twenty-one. This decision might not have cost the team the series, but it will in all probability cost them in the World Cup. If they persist with Markram in this position it might work but it is a massive risk because all the top teams will have at least a sixth bowler option. This will undoubtedly be needed on Asian pitches. A penny for Chris Morris thoughts right now… 

Death Bowling was Extremely Poor

Outside of Kagiso Rabada defending 14 in the last over of the 3rd T20I when he bowled yorkers with ease, the death bowler has been a horror show in this series. None more so when Rabada and Ngidi went for 66 in the last four overs of the West Indies innings in the 4th T20I. The least the West Indies scored in the last five overs of any of their innings was 46 in the 3rd T20I and the most was 68 in the 1st T20I so that is a run rate between 9 per over to 13 per over. The South African pace bowlers at no time found any consistency whether through slower balls or yorker deliveries. Rabada was not at his usual best but Lungi Ngidi getting the final over in the 4th T20I was very strange considering he has gone for 11 an over in the last 2 years no matter when he has bowled. 

My World Cup Starting XI

Aiden Markram                           

Quinton de Kock

Faf Du Plessis

Temba Bavuma

David Miller

Rassie Van Der Dussen

Dwaine Pretorius/Wiaan Mulder 

Kagiso Rabada

Anrich Nortje

Imran Tahir

Tabraiz Shamsi

Further Squad Selections for Squad of 18

Chris Morris

Faf Du Plessis

Kyle Verreynne

Keshav Maharaj

Janneman Malan

Sisanda Magala

George Linde

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