South Africa’s cricket coach Russell Domingo says they are fully aware of how important Wednesday’s deciding ODI against New Zealand is.
South Africa will go into the game on the back of an eight-wicket hiding in Potchefstroom and if they lose on Wednesday it will not only be the second consecutive ODI series they have lost, but also the second time in a row they have lost a home series to New Zealand.
The Proteas lost a series 2-1 for the first time against Bangladesh in July as well as the previous time New Zealand toured here in 2013.
The home side will move to third place in the ICC’s ODI rankings if they win, overtaking New Zealand who will swap places with them.
‘Every series is important. The media and public can be harsh; they want wins and we are fully aware that we need to win this series,’ Domingo said at a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
‘Considering our performances in Bangladesh, Wednesday is an important game for us.’
In a curious move the management decided to cancel Tuesday’s practice session. When asked about it, Domingo had this response: ‘We’ve got a few niggles at the moment. I don’t think one practice session now is going to make too much of a difference. We’ve trained really well in the series thus far.
‘We felt it was a good day to maybe just connect as a team and do something other than cricket. So we will be spending time together but it won’t be on a cricket field, it will be somewhere else.’
South Africa’s batters have looked very unconvincing lately and Domingo underlined the importance of players such as Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy, who are both missing this series due to injury and paternity leave respectively.
‘We are missing two big players in JP and Faf, and it is important to have two or three solid, top batters in our top four. Faf and Hashim are two players we look at to hold an innings together.
‘Having a batter who is willing to graft through 40 overs is something we need to have, especially when we only have Hashim who does that consistently; Faf is the other guy who does that for us. Hashim and Faf have the right balance between very attacking batting and being more defensive. Some of the other batsmen still have to find that.’
New Zealand are missing up to five key players through injury or being rested, but Domingo insists they remain a real threat.
‘New Zealand remain a quality side, they have good depth. They still have match-winners in their side.’
He hinted that Kagiso Rabada could return for the final game after spinner Aaron Phangiso was preferred for the second game in Potchefstroom this past Sunday.
‘I need to chat to the selectors, but obviously a seam attack is important in Durban’s conditions,’ Domingo said.
‘Rabada has been outstanding for us. He’s got a lot of potential; he is still young and I think the management of him is going to be important. That’s why we probably didn’t want to play him in Potch, because we didn’t think conditions would suit him there.’
All-rounder David Wiese has been one of the newcomers in the side who have struggled so far in the serious, particularly with his fielding after he dropped crucial catches in the first two games.
‘It would be a bit unfair to discard a player after two performances. We always pride ourselves on giving guys a real run to try to establish themselves and I don’t think it will be any different with David.’