Farhaan Behardien and Russell Domingo believed they should have defended 169 in their defeat to Sri Lanka at Newlands on Wednesday.
After posting 169-5, thanks to an inspiring comeback from AB de Villiers (63 off 44 balls), a wonderfully played 41 off 34 balls from Reeza Hendricks and a late burst of 32 not out off 15 balls from Mangaliso Mosehle, the Proteas went into Sri Lanka’s innings with a series victory on their minds. With four seamers on a pitch conducive for pace bowling, the crowd and pundits alike sensed a Proteas win especially with Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews out injured.
The total seemed to be defendable and interim captain Behardien expressed his frustrations with the loss.
‘Very frustrating, we let ourselves down in the field and that took the momentum from our bowlers,’ he said. ‘I can’t put it down to any particular reasons, it was just one of those nights. We lost a bit of momentum when (David) Miller and I departed, but Mangi (Mosehle) delivered for us in the last few overs. Normally 160 is par at Newlands and we got just above that. I think we batted really well; we thought we got a good score but dropped catches cost us. The guys fought all the way to the end.’
Proteas Coach Domingo agreed with his skipper.
‘The dropped catches were tough on us. Maybe it was too big an occasion for the youngsters, but hopefully, they learn from it,’ said Domingo.
‘In general, our T20 performances have not been bad, we just haven’t crossed the line at crucial stages.’
Amongst the disappointment of the series defeat, there have been loads of positives shown. Lungi Ngidi is SA’s new rising star, and despite only bowling two overs in the final T20 due to injury, he still finished as the top wicket-taker of the series with six scalps. The comeback of AB de Villiers was also promising for SA, who hit his ninth half-ton in his first game back since 24 June 2016. Mosehle also showed some good signs as a wicketkeeper-batsman in the short format.
Behardien praised the 20-year-old seamer and emphasised his injury as one of the determining factors of the match. He also singled out Mosehle and is excited with what the future holds for SA cricket with new talent coming through.
‘We’ve unearthed a really good talent in Ngidi, Mosehle has upped his game since moving to the Lions, Jon-Jon Smuts has been trial and tested at franchise level, Reeza Hendricks batted really nicely and Tabraiz Shamsi is a young, exciting wrist spinner coming through who can learn from Imran Tahir. So overall the stocks are good.
‘The injury of Ngidi complicated things quite a lot,’ Behardien added. ‘He has been our star bowler in the last two T20Is and I had to find a couple of overs to fill his quota. He’s a strike bowler who tends to get wickets when called upon so it was a tough blow for us.’
Behardien shed some light on Ngidi’s injury and gave his admirers some relief regarding the youngster’s condition.
‘It’s just an awkward spot, a bit of bone bruising on his hip from what I know; he will have to go for an assessment and then we will know.’
Domingo was pleased with De Villiers’ comeback and believes he played the situation well as a No 3, a position which he is not generally his own.
‘He’s one of the best batsmen in the world so it’s great to have him back,’ said Domingo.
‘It was almost like a rebirth for him after six months out and he was actually nervous to play today, he was a little bit edgy, but it’s great because it shows how much he wanted to perform. He played really well and I’m glad he got some runs behind his name with the ODI series so we can focus fully on that. He batted well at No 3 but Faf du Plessis will play there in the 50-over match and AB will take his position at No 4.’
The Proteas will divert their focus to the ODI series which starts 28 January in Port Elizabeth.
PHOTO: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images