Kobus Pretorius picks five talking points ahead of Friday’s crucial fourth ODI clash between South Africa and England at the Wanderers.
Top four crucial
South Africa’s top four are among the best in the world. Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla showed with their centuries on Tuesday that if they fire, South Africa will win more games than they lose. De Kock is fast establishing himself as one of the best ODI batsman in the world, while Amla is slowly but surely getting his consistency back. They proved that if two of the top four score big runs South Africa will be in a dominant position. It’s where the team’s strength lies and where most games will be won and lost for them.
The role of the fifth bowler continues to be an issue for the Proteas as JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien are not good enough bowlers to share that load. It remains a risk to ask them to fill that role and perhaps the most obvious solution is to pick an all-rounder and stick with him. That is exactly what the selectors did for the last game, but it’s a pity it had to be at the expense of Rilee Rossouw. SACricketmag.com columnist Alviro Petersen argues that Behardien is not an all-rounder and should only be regarded as a batsman. He will then compete with David Miller and Rossouw for a place in the side. So, who is the best batsman between them?
South Africa’s bowling has to be better in the last two games of the series. They were hammered in the first ODI where England smashed 399 and the inconsistency has continued. England again looked set for a big score on Tuesday, but lost quick wickets in the last 10 overs which affected their momentum. It shouldn’t be that hard for players at that level to adjust their line and lengths, or mix it up with different deliveries, when things aren’t working. The bowlers must be more flexible and adjust quicker when the batsmen are having a go at them.
Imran Tahir has not been at his best in the series. Granted, the conditions have been much more favourable to batsmen, but Tahir has been too expensive, which puts extra pressure on the seamers to keep an end tight. His main job is to keep the runs down and bowl out the tail, but his ineffectiveness in this regard is one of the reasons South Africa have struggled in the series. He needs to improve quickly because the less the team has to rely on Duminy and Behardien’s ability with the ball, the better.
Being 2-1 behind in the series with two games to play, South Africa must show that Tuesday’s performance at Centurion was not just a one-off. They have been very inconsistent of late and generally struggle to win two games in a row. If South Africa want to push the series to a decider at Newlands on Sunday, the players must use the confidence and momentum gained by Tuesday’s victory to level the series.