Following his side’s five-wicket loss to Pakistan at St Georges’ Park, Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis has said that the side needs to learn to adapt quicker to conditions that aren’t in their favour, writes SIMON LEWIS.
Not to be forgotten is the fact that Pakistan has yet to end an ODI on the losing side at St George’s Park (they have now won four from five, with one no-result making up the numbers), and their solid run chase saw them reach their target off the first ball of the 50th over. Although it might have been a comfortable win for Pakistan, it was far from a cakewalk.
Nonetheless, Du Plessis believes there are some valuable lessons for his side to take from the defeat, which comes on the back of their triumphant 3-0 clean sweep in the Test series. The big talking point online has been the ‘slow’ scoring of Hashim Amla (who racked up his 27th ODI ton) alongside Rassie van der Dussen, who scored an impressive 93 on his ODI debut.
The fact that the Proteas – who scored a decent, albeit far from impenetrable, 266 – still had eight wickets in hand has drawn much of the emphasis away from what was a really important partnership for the Proteas as they prepare for World Cup 2019.
‘An in-form Hashim Amla is great for us. Rassie played beautifully, he had intent right through his innings. The two guys batted really well, but perhaps there were 10 or 15 runs that we could have pushed a little harder for,’ said Du Plessis in an interview with the ICC.
Key to their improvement will be maximising runs on different surfaces such at St George’s Park, a track which played to the strengths of the Pakistan side.
‘We need to adapt,’ admitted Du Plessis. ‘You’re not going to always get conditions for the fast bowlers. Pakistan bowled better than us over 50 overs today.
‘Pakistan (also) batted really well. You have to give credit where it’s due. Some great learnings for us, and we know where we can get better,’ concluded Du Plessis.
Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed credited his batsmen for a ‘responsible’ performance that was key to clinching the first win of their South African tour.
‘In the middle overs, Shadab (Khan) was great, as well as Imad (Wasim). And the way our fast bowlers bowled was very good,’ added Sarfaraz.
Mohammad Hafeez’s undefeated 71 proved to be the clincher in what was actually a pretty tight finish, and it earned him the Player of the Match award.
‘It’s a team effort,’ said a humble Hafeez. ‘It was not a par score on this track, so we were confident chasing it. To be very honest, we were very sure as a team we should chase this one. The start given by Fakhar (Zaman) and Imam(-ul-Haq) was brilliant. Babar (Azam) gave us momentum.’
Next up for the two teams is a clash at Kingsmead, where Pakistan’s record is in the positive with five wins against three losses (including matches against the West Indies and Sri Lanka). However, their output against the Proteas at Kingsmead is even stronger, with four wins to two losses.
Quite possibly the Proteas will need to gird their loins and suck up another loss in the 2nd ODI, and then use the returning energy of Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn to push for three wins on the bounce to sneak a series win from behind. With places up for grabs in the World Cup, however, Pakistan might find a good deal of resistance from the Proteas up in KwaZulu-Natal.
Match two in the five-ODI series is at Kingsmead on Tuesday 22 January, with play starting at 1pm.
Photo: Cricket South Africa