SACricketmag.com’s KHALID MOHIDIN rates the Proteas’ performances in the first ODI against Zimbabwe at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Sunday.
The Proteas bowled beautifully but faced a batting scare – a somewhat familiar outcome in recent times. The first ODI was tougher than expected, despite the Proteas’ ruthlessness with the ball. They managed to drag themselves over the line with a five-wicket victory and, most importantly, got off to a winning start to their three-match series.
Aiden Markram – 6
The 23-year-old played in his natural position and performed admirably, despite losing partners on the other end. He played with purpose and attacking intent, but his execution wasn’t as polished as he would have hoped, which was evident in his frustration at losing his wicket having scored 27 off 38 balls. It was a difficult pitch to get settled on and almost impossible to predict the bounce, but surely Markram would have kicked himself for not pushing on into the 50s, after receiving a second life when he was dismissed off a no-ball from Tendai Chatara. He has the talent, technique and heart to be a brilliant ODI player, it’s time he resets and plays his natural game and proves his critics wrong in the second ODI.
Dean Elgar – 3
Critics and fans alike had their own split opinions about Elgar’s selection in the ODI set-up. Standing in for the injured Hashim Amla, Ottis Gibson fulfilled his promise of handing the 31-year-old his opportunity to prove himself as an ODI player. He opened the batting with his Test opening partner – Markram – and went hard at a Chatara delivery, trying to flick it across the line. He mistimed the stroke and found the leading edge straight to third-man – out for two. The expectation would have been for his experience to kick in and adapt his game to the tricky pitch conditions.
With only 118 runs to get, it is not unfair to expect Elgar to provide a significant contribution in the chase, but it is unfair to not give him a second chance in the role – seeing that it has been three years since he has played in the coloured clothing. He did have a decent time in the slips, taking a difficult low catch. Let’s hope he can put in a better performance with the bat in the second ODI as his abilities would add great value to the Proteas ODI side if he can find his best form.
Reeza Hendricks – 4
Hendricks has failed to follow up the brilliant start to his ODI career after scoring a debut century against Sri Lanka. Having been trusted with the challenging role as the Proteas’ No 3, the 29-year-old has only managed two, zero, 19 and five in his last four games. His particular performance against Zimbabwe was disappointing. He was bamboozled by a drifting delivery from Wellington Masakadza that spun away sharply, beating his outside edge.
The right-hander was drawn forward, played according to the original line against a new ball that should not have turned as much as it did. Having fallen victim to a beautiful delivery, Hendricks saw himself back in the dressing room with his side 25-2 halfway through the seventh over. He did, however, take a couple of beautiful catches in the slip that adds to his rating.
Heinrich Klaasen – 8
Undoubtedly the Proteas’ top batsman on the day, Klaasen scored a career-best 44 and read the pitch to perfection. He played a much-needed revival innings that calmed the pressure on the Proteas after they were reduced to 58-4. The highlight of his innings was when he pulled consecutive sixes over deep mid-wicket at the start of the 22nd over to take himself to his personal best score.
He aimed to repeat the same pull-shot that had brought him success throughout his innings but instead found the newly placed fielder at long on, losing his wicket six runs short of a maiden half-century.
Christiaan Jonker – 3
The big-hitting No 6 batsman was pushed up the order, given the low total posted by Zimbabwe. His selection was purely based on Gibson wanting to see his middle-order options and, unfortunately, Jonker could not execute at the level he would have liked. He played one ambitious stroke too many and failed read the pitch of Brandon Mavuta’s leg break delivery, hitting him straight to mid-wicket. It’s unfair to judge Jonker based on this performance alone, so let’s see how he turns things around in the second ODI.
JP Duminy (c) – 8
Duminy showed great experience and leadership to marshal his bowlers and see out the game. After an unpredicted scare saw the Proteas lose four wickets for 40 runs, Duminy came in and scored an unbeaten 16 to secure the five-wicket win. He gritted through on a difficult pitch and put in a shift that many would have expected from someone like Elgar. It was reassuring to see Duminy adapt his usual attacking mindset to ensure the victory.
The majority of Duminy’s rating points, however, came from the way he organised his bowling attack. He utilised his bowlers perfectly – especially his young all-rounders Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Milder – as they skittled Zimbabwe for 117.
Wiaan Mulder – 7
The 20-year-old put in a mature performance with both bat and ball. He kept things economical, taking one wicket at an economy rate of 3.16 and contributed two fours for his 14 that sealed the five-wicket win. He partnered up perfectly with Phehlukwayo in the middle overs and put in a great shift as the Proteas’ first change bowler, taking a wicket in his first over.
Andile Phehlukwayo – 8
The 21-year-old all-rounder is starting to find his groove with the ball. He finished with 2-22 at an economy rate of 3.14 that included the wickets of the in-form Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza (25) off the last ball of his first over.
Kagiso Rabada – 8
Not much needs to be said about Rabada, who continues to find wickets as the Proteas’ premier speedster. He finished as the Proteas’ most expensive bowler in this match, taking 2-34, as he played more of a supportive role to Lungi Ngidi in his first spell. However, he showed his true class in his second spell, finding two quick wickets to dangle Zimbabwe over the edge.
Lungi Ngidi – 9
A Player of the Match performance from the Proteas’ rising star was enough to give him the Proteas’ highest rating. He finished with figures of 3-19, taking the first and last wickets in the Zimbabwe innings to restrict them to their lowest total against South Africa. Ngidi was ruthless in his approach and kept the visitors on the back foot, finding lethal pace, bounce and movement.
Imran Tahir – 8
It was great to see Tahir back in the ODI fold after he was rested in the Sri Lanka series. He kept the Zimbabwe bowlers guessing with his variations and backed this up by taking 2-23 in his five overs.
Proteas total – 72/110
Proteas player average – 6.54
Photo: Wikus de Wet/AFP/Getty Images