South Africa’s inconsistent ODI form remains a worry as they build towards two big tours against India and England this year.
The Proteas are struggling to string two convincing performances together, losing the second ODI against New Zealand by eight wickets. After their series loss in the 50-over format against Bangladesh, they need to win the third and final game against New Zealand in Durban on Wednesday.
1. Behardien shows his worth
With Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy missing the series, Farhaan Behardien proved he can play an innings of substance when his team needs it most. Behardien, like David Wiese, is still trying to establish himself in the ODI side and so far he has done more than his teammate to stake a claim for himself going forward. Neither should be judged on this series alone, but Behardien, who also offers a bowling option, will hope for a strong showing in the final game to further strengthen his case.
2. Catches win matches
It’s an old cliche, but remains true. Even though South Africa dropped at least four catches in the first ODI, they still managed to win the game. This time, however, they dropped Martin Guptill three times and he went on to score a match-winning 103. The dip in fielding standards will be of concern to AB de Villiers and it needs to be rectified before the last game on Wednesday.
3. Another poor start
South Africa have struggled to build big opening partnerships on this tour, which has put the middle order under pressure. Morne van Wyk, who was brought in for Quinton de Kock after the youngster was dropped due to poor form, has struggled and Wednesday’s game will probably be the last time he plays for South Africa. De Kock scored three hundreds in three consecutive innings on the SA A tour to India and should come back into the side for the Proteas’ tour there in October and November.
4. How to read a pitch
Hashim Amla admitted after the series defeat in Bangladesh that they ‘misread’ the conditions. The same happened on Sunday with AB de Villiers admitting that with hindsight, he would have bowled first. The misreading of conditions is not always a game-breaker – it happens. What is worrying is South Africa’s seemingly inability to adapt their approach to the conditions at hand once they have batted on it for a period of time. There is a certain amount of naivety to the way the Proteas batted on Sunday and they need to be smarter in their approach to difficult conditions.
5. A must win
There’s no way around it – South Africa have to win the third ODI on Wednesday and thereby the series. After losing a series against Bangladesh for the first time, they cannot afford to lose a second consecutive series, this time at home. New Zealand are missing five first-choice players on this tour. The counter-argument will be that South Africa are missing the likes of Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel and JP Duminy, but you still expect them to win an ODI series at home with AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir in their ranks. Losing the series will leave South Africa low on confidence going into their next tour to India.