Five talking points ahead of South Africa’s dead rubber against Sri Lanka in Delhi on Monday.
Nothing to play for
The age old cliché of playing for pride comes to mind for this match between two teams who are already out of the tournament, but South Africa should find little solace in winning their last game. It won’t mean anything. Sri Lanka are a struggling team devoid of superstars in what looks like their worst team in many years. Losing to them would open South Africa up to even more scrutiny and criticism. Just beat them and come home.
Dale Steyn should stop playing T20 cricket. There, I said it. The fast bowler has been very defensive about suggestions the past 18 months or so that his powers are in decline, but if he wants to carry on playing till he’s 38, he’ll have to pick a format and focus on that. He has become too injury prone of late. Test cricket has always been Steyn’s best format, by a long a shot, and by his own admission it is the format he enjoys playing the most. Playing only two T20 internationals in the two years between T20 World Cups says something. Steyn was, maybe still is, the best Test bowler of his generation; the best South African fast bowler ever and one of the best of all time. He has never been that in the shorter formats. He played one game in India, against England, and conceded 35 runs in two overs. Hopefully he plays on Monday as a sort of goodbye to the format which never really loved.
Give Rabada a rest
Kagiso Rabada has given his everything for South Africa since making his debut almost a year ago, and in the process proved he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level for years to come. He is the most exciting fast bowler to play for South Africa since Dale Steyn 12 years ago and has already showed his class on the international stage. But he needs a rest. Rabada has become a mainstay in all formats, and the early talk of managing him carefully at this young age has seemingly gone out the window. He’s had a tough time in India and it would make a lot of sense to hold him back and give Steyn and Kyle Abbott a go in the last game.
Behardien deserves a chance
There shouldn’t be too many changes to the XI who played against West Indies, but Farhaan Behardien deserves to play at least a game in the place of Rilee Rossouw, who continues to be picked on potential and little else. Behardien is a useful batsman down the order and because people are still analysing statistics wrong when it comes to T20’s, he has found himself regularly criticised. There can be no excuse in not giving everyone in the squad an opportunity to play in this competition.
Time to chase
There’s a kind of irony in the fact that in the two games South Africa lost, they batted first and had to defend a total. It was something coach Russell Domingo admitted was a concern after the series against Australia at home and in the end it proved correct. The bowling challenge in India was always going to differ greatly from those in South Africa, but the fact remains they should never have lost against England defending 229. That was the hammer blow they struggled to recover from. Let’s hope Faf du Plessis wins the toss and bowls first for a change.