The Proteas will aim to complete a white ball whitewash of Sri Lanka with victory in the third and final T20I at the Wanderers on Sunday to finish their World Cup preparations on the ultimate high, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The hosts sealed the series by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead against Sri Lanka in the second T20I at Centurion. The contest proved to be an opportunity for the Proteas batsmen to get some vital practice in the roles for which they were selected.
Rassie van der Dussen showed steel coming in at three in a more senior role after Aiden Markram lost his wicket early at the top of the order, while Reeza Hendricks showed that he can lead an attack in the absence of a more established opening partner.
Van der Dussen in particular showed that he can consistently churn out performances for the national side. Since he came onto the scene, the 30-year-old has won over fans and selectors by racking up four ODI half-centuries. He also showed that a push up the order and a change in formats would not hamper his form and he scored his second T20I half-century to help the Proteas set a foundation to victory.
Despite his impressive recent performances, he remained humble in his assessment of his form and his potential World Cup selection.
‘I don’t think you can ever say that you have sealed a World Cup place. I came into this team not too long ago and I said I will take every game at a time‚ always be at my best and see what happens,’ he said in a press conference on Friday.
‘That is still my mindset and philosophy. I know that there are going to be some selection meetings coming up and I think I have done okay so far but there are never guarantees in life.’
VIDEO: Rassie van der Dussen addresses the media after his 64 of 44 balls.
JP Duminy showed that he can turn on an attacking switch at the back of an innings which is a crucial role when the Proteas need to extend their control. His 33 was vital in adding enough cushion that protected them from an Isuru Udana onslaught. His 48-ball 84 diluted the winning margin to 16 runs for the Proteas, in what was expected to be a walkover.
Markram and Sinethemba Qeshile were debutants in the match, but the former failed to impress at the top order and the latter never received the opportunity to bat. Both players will hope for better fortunes in the final T20I. The selectors should consider pushing him up the order in this final match to ensure he has the opportunity to display his skills on the international stage.
Players to Watch
Markram will have a final chance to prove that he deserves a spot in the World Cup XI. His opportunity in the final ODI was brought to a halt with the 24-year-old en route to a big score that would have led the Proteas over the line, but instead, the victory was secured on the DLS Method owing to a bad floodlight that brought the match to a premature end. His second opportunity was in the T20I, but he lost his wicket cheaply and found himself in the dugout early in the innings, only to watch Hendricks play an admirable knock that set up the series win.
Niroshan Dickwella has failed to impress on the tour to South Africa. He showed briefly what he has in his arsenal in the second T20I, particularly when he hit an impressive Dilscoop during his 16-ball innings of 20. Similarly to Markram, he needs to show his ability to kick on after making a solid start.
Probable Proteas XI
1) Aiden Markram
2) Reeza Hendricks
3) Rassie van der Dussen
4) David Miller
5) JP Duminy (c)
6) Chris Morris
7) Dwaine Pretorius
8) Sinethemba Qeshile (wk)
9) Dale Steyn
10) Lutho Sipamla
11) Tabraiz Shamsi
Probable Sri Lanka XI
1) Niroshan Dickwella
2) Avishka Fernando
3) Kusal Mendis (wk)
4) Angelo Perera
5) Dhananjaya de Silva
6) Thisara Perera
7) Jefferey Vandersay
8) Lasith Malinga (c)
9) Akila Dananjaya
10) Kamindu Mendis
11) Isuru Udana
Photo: Christiaan Kotze /AFP/Getty Images