• McLaren relishes the fight

    Ryan McLaren has become the go-to man during the Power Play overs in ODI cricket, reports Gareth Stevens.

    During the first ODI on Sunday, Sri Lanka were building momentum and looked to launch during the field restrictions. But Ryan McLaren turned the game on its head by capturing two quick wickets in the second over of the Power Play. It was another example of why the all-rounder relishes bowling during the Power Play, as he feels it’s an opportunity to strike.

    ‘We know that during the Power Play phases the guys are going to come at us,’ said McLaren. ‘I suppose from playing one-day cricket in the past you get used to being pummeled a bit but you have to accept that fact and stay mentally in the challenge and the fight.’

    This attitude saw McLaren take more wickets than anyone else in the Proteas ODI side last season. He has also claimed 10 of his 46 wickets since 2013 during the Power Play overs.

    ‘If you take wickets in the Power Play it changes the momentum of the match. You can’t do that with a negative mind-set of just trying to block runs, you have nowhere to hide with only three fielders out.’

    McLaren, who has become the premier all-rounder in the ODI team, has also started the series well with the bat. He shared in an unbeaten 55-run partnership with David Miller at the death to push South Africa’s total over the 300 mark. The late onslaught ensured the Proteas went into the break with momentum on their side.

    ‘It’s the first game of cricket that I have played in four months so I’m quite happy with how it went. It makes my role easier when you have David Miller on the other side hitting the ball out of the park. Sometimes I have to understand how to complement David in the partnership, I might need to take it on but when he is going like he did yesterday I just need to be sensible and play around him.’

    The squad arrived in Kandy on Monday afternoon ahead of the second ODI at Pallekele on Wednesday. The victory on Sunday presents the team with a chance to create history. If they win they will become the first Proteas team to win an ODI series in Sri Lanka. But McLaren knows that it won’t be easy.

    ‘It’s a good start to the series especially because it’s a three-match series. History shows that it has been tough to win here in the past so to come back and win the first game like this is important. It’s a big stepping-stone to where we want to take our one-day cricket. The hard work starts again in Kandy so it’s important not to become complacent.’

    Photo: Backpagepix

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