We pinpoint the points of interest from South Africa’s victory over Australia in Wednesday’s opening T20I.
Shot of the Day: The six struck high and hard over long-on in the fifth over of the chase highlighted Rilee Rossouw’s brash force, but the four punched off the backfoot the very next delivery typified his exquisite timing. In truth, it wasn’t a poor delivery from Doug Bollinger – but Rossouw’s intent to cash in during the powerplay trumped all.
Delivery of the Day: Reeza Hendricks, poor thing, was the unfortunate recipient of a duck on international debut. Left-armer Bollinger, approaching the right-hander from over the wicket in the first over of the pursuit, produced a peach that pitched on leg-stump and swung across the off-stump. Hendricks was lured into an awkward poke – and feathered an edge to the diving Ben Dunk.
Batsman of the Match: Suffice to say, those four ODI ducks are now behind Rossouw. Determined and consistent at meeting the ball at its pitch, the solid left-hander used his feet down the pitch time and time again. Wednesday’s half-century will hopefully prove to be a watershed innings, as this genuine talent truly starts to come into his own. That heavy bottom hand, too, suggested shades of Graeme Smith.
Bowler of the Match: Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell produced superb lengths, but Kyle Abbott found the blockhole the most. Churning out yorker after yorker, the tall right-armer allowed the big-hitting James Faulkner in particular very little to work with. If Abbott did err, he did so with a low full toss, which is far less of a sin than a half-volley. South Africa’s outstanding death bowling was epitomised by Abbott’s miserly economy. Australia didn’t manage even one boundary from the closing 26 deliveries.
Fielder of the Match: Farhaan Behardien brought a fresh, characteristically athletic dynamic to a fielding unit sans the services of the livewire Faf du Plessis. Watchdog-esque on the fence and a veritable jackrabbit at cover point, Behardien was consistently at hand to keep potential twos to singles – and cut off the odd boundary. His leaping catch to get rid of Cameron White was a true delight.
Milestone of the Day: Kagiso Rabada became the country’s youngest Twenty International debutant at the tender age of 19 years and 164 days on Wednesday. Rabada proved the most expensive on paper, but largely won a telling battle with Aaron Finch in the second over – and later stood at the fore of Shane Watson’s appreciation of a testing challenge during a quick interview on the sidelines. Rossouw, meanwhile, achieved the fourth-highest score by a T20I debutant.
Fail of the Day: Imran Tahir endured a typically shoddy performance in the field. Duminy tried to hide the leg spinner at fine-leg and thirdman, but the ball followed him. Tahir grassed a straightforward catch in the opening over – and almost turned a regulation single into a boundary late in the innings.
Key Juncture: Duminy delivered two cheap overs – and bowled well in tandem with Tahir. He was quick to remove himself from the attack, though, duly handing over the seaming conditions to Parnell and company. Another stand-in skipper, eager to shoulder the responsibility, might have insisted on a full allotment of four overs from himself, detrimentally so.
Selection Poser: Australia copped a hard lesson in loading their XI with too many all-rounders. South Africa, meanwhile, did very well in defining the specialist roles of Abbott, Tahir and Rossouw, rather than expecting David Wiese or Robin Peterson to be a jack of both trades.
Quote of the Day: ‘I hope these players are not necessarily looking to stake claims for the World Cup. But it’s nice to know that, if there is an injury, they are there and available. The current side, otherwise, is pretty settled.’ – former South Africa captain-cum-television commentator Shaun Pollock.
By Jonhenry Wilson