The Proteas struggled to 189-9 in their Tri-Nation series encounter against Australia in Guyana on Tuesday.
After stuttering to their worst total against West Indies since 1992 on Friday, a big response was needed against a challenging Australian unit, but the opponents made the most of a slow, low wicket to inflict more disappointment on the Proteas.
Time will tell if AB de Villiers’ charges have done enough, but the skipper chose to bat first after winning the toss for a reason – it’s a good pitch to bat on and opposite number Steve Smith said he would have batted first too. Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell have a lot of work to do upfront, and will need to be backed up by the three spinners in the side, including debutant Tabraiz Shamsi.
A contentious decision saw Quinton de Kock fall first after he put on an encouraging 29-run stand with Hashim Amla. An lbw shout was turned down by the umpire as he thought De Kock got some bat on an angled Josh Hazlewood delivery. The third umpire didn’t see anything wrong and accepted Smith’s review to send the 23-year-old back to the pavilion.
Rilee Rossouw fell a few overs later for seven, wasting his side’s review as Nathan Lyon trapped him lbw. Amla built up some momentum as he put on a 40-run stand with De Villiers, but a sharp bit of fielding saw Amla fall short of his crease for 35.
The runs dried up from there as De Villiers, as he did against West Indies, struggled to find the boundary. He would be Nathan Coulter-Nile’s first victim on the night, bowled for 22. He’s now gone 92 balls without finding the boundary for his country in ODIs, a far cry from his potent displays in the IPL.
On a spin-friendly deck, it would be the quicks to show excellent discipline and execution, and Duminy was similarly sluggish, also having his stumps sent flying out the ground from Coulter-Nile for 13.
Wayne Parnell didn’t hang around either (2), but the partnership between Farhaan Behardien and Aaron Phangiso proved a crucial one. Phangiso, coming in at a flattering No 8, only scored nine, but he lasted 41 balls, which allowed Behardien to take control without the pressure of wickets falling around him. They put on 27 before Phangiso’s resistance was ended by Adam Zampa.
Kagiso Rabada (15 off 27) played a similar role as Behardien reached a vital half-century, which could prove invaluable towards keeping his place in the side. In the end they would have to settle for 189-9, as Hazlewood (2-20) produced the most economical 10-over figures for Australian opening bowler since Glenn McGrath’s 2-18 in 2005.