Time for SA to walk the talk

Proteas in series decider against B’desh today

FLAT SPIN: Proteas leg-break bowler Imran Tahir celebrates after taking a wicket. PICTURE: GALLO IMAGES
FLAT SPIN: Proteas leg-break bowler Imran Tahir celebrates after taking a wicket. PICTURE: GALLO IMAGES

YOU cannot accuse Imran Tahir of not taking a balanced approach to the deciding one-day international between Bangladesh and South Africa in Chittagong today.

“We are not worried about what happened in the last game . . .” he began yesterday, with reference to South Africa’s shock seven-wicket loss in the second match of the series on Sunday.

“. . . or,” Tahir continued, “the game before” – the unsurprising result of the first match, which South Africa won by eight wickets.

Similar one-sidedness marked the visitors’ victories, by 52 and 31 runs, in the T20s.

No worries, then. Except that South Africa have given themselves and their supporters a heap of exactly that on a tour that would have no relevance were it not for Sunday, bloody Sunday.

How could a team so superior to their opponents come so badly unstuck, and that after dominating them for three consecutive matches?

South Africa’s players answered that question with their eyes, which were glazed with boredom, as if to say, “This lot again? Do we have to?”

Which is not to accuse South Africa of arrogance. Each of their players who has spoken to the media during the tour has found a way to say “Bangladesh have been playing really good cricket” – and that they have, what with reaching the World Cup quarterfinals and beating Pakistan and India in one-day series.

However, the effects of the hidings South Africa had dealt the home side were felt on both sides of the divide on Sunday.

The South Africans would not have wanted to believe Bangladesh could beat them, but they are human like the rest of us.

The Bangladeshis, meanwhile, knew one win in the ODIs would guarantee their place in the 2017 Champions Trophy and give them a chance of earning a hattrick of series victories over teams stronger than them.

South Africa’s motivation today – to spare themselves the embarrassment of conceding a series to abject minnows – is far less powerful. But it is all they have. “I think if we had put a better score on the board it would have been different,” Tahir said about Sunday’s sorriness. Damn right: being dismissed for 162 by a popgun attack is not the stuff of success.

Thing is, South Africa have no frontline batting reserves. A top seven in which only Faf du Plessis and Farhaan Behardien made it to 25 on Sunday is all they have.

Morne Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell and Aaron Phangiso are the bowlers who have yet to be given a game in the ODIs.

Chris Morris, whose performances in the first two games have been as flat as suggested by his economy rate of 6.42 – the highest among South Africa’s bowlers – looks ripe for the chop.

Morkel should take his place. Unless, that is, South Africa look to also bolster their batting by picking McLaren.

Yes, Parnell could win the match with bat or ball. No, he has not done anything of the sort nearly enough recently to warrant selection.

“If [Bangladesh] play well, they are going to win,” Tahir said. “But we are a team that never steps back from any challenge.”

– Telford Vice

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