Five talking points after the Proteas World Cup 2019 warm-up victory over Sri Lanka at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Friday, writes JONHENRY WILSON.
Du Plessis’ bird-eye view
Captain Faf du Plessis appropriately top-scored for South Africa. More importantly, he spent an extended period at the crease with opening batsman Hashim Amla. Du Plessis was ideally placed to judge as Amla forged a semblance of form during a 128-run partnership for the second wicket. Amla, or fellow right-hander Aiden Markram will open the batting alongside the left-handed Quinton de Kock when the World Cup gets under way in earnest next week. For now, the brains trust have the duo battling for that lone berth, as evidenced by Friday’s decision to not bat De Kock.
The missing piece
Fast bowler Dale Steyn didn’t bowl against Sri Lanka – and is still nursing the shoulder injury sustained during this year’s Indian Premier League. His absence saw South Africa play three seamer all-rounders in the batting XI during Friday’s rotation of 14 players. The fit was fine for the first half, but awkward for the second. The Proteas need a third specialist fast bowler, particularly if late replacement Chris Morris isn’t proving consistent.
Just one spinner
South Africa will play Afghanistan at Sophia Gardens on 15 June. What they learnt on Friday can be implemented in three weeks’ time: two frontline slow bowlers won’t be required. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir extracted more spin than left-armer Tabraiz Shamsi, but neither relished much. Shamsi was played predictably on the sweep – and wasn’t really offered protection at deep backward square leg.
Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi was the most impressive of the bowlers. He hit the right lengths early, beating the right-handers outside the off-stump on several occasions. His pace was decent and delivery rhythmical. Fellow right-armer Kagiso Rabada was too short, for the most part, and couldn’t find the same success enjoyed during April’s IPL.
The Karunaratne lesson
South Africa are going to face a lot of brash big-hitters across the next 40 days, but will also bowl to orthodox, calculated cricketers. Sri Lanka captain and opener Dimuth Karunaratne is a case in point – he almost outdid Du Plessis’ 88 with a measured 87. New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, Australia’s Usman Khawaja and Pakistan’s Imam-ul-Haq are other examples of this threat, and the Proteas will need to size up these batsmen.
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