Reserved praise from Domingo

YOUNG STAR: South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada celebrates the wicket of New Zealand’s Martin Guptill with teammates during their ODI at Eden Park in Auckland at the weekend Picture: GETTY IMAGES
YOUNG STAR: South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada celebrates the wicket of New Zealand’s Martin Guptill with teammates during their ODI at Eden Park in Auckland at the weekend
Picture: GETTY IMAGES

No perfect game in series win, says coach

South Africa completed a hat-trick of oneday series wins at Eden Park on Saturday and reclaimed the No 1 ranking. Since October they have hammered Australia and Sri Lanka 5-0 each and edged New Zealand 3-2. That is 13 wins in 15 games. You would think coach Russell Domingo would be happy with that. He is – mostly.

“We’ve spoken long and hard about our intensity in the field‚ and JP Duminy led us spectacularly in the field throughout this campaign‚” Domingo said in Auckland yesterday.

Duminy lived up to that accolade on Saturday with a superb dive-slide-pickup-throw to dismiss Mitchell Santner‚ the ball crashing unerringly into the single stump visible from his position at point.

“That runout was as good as I’ve seen‚” Domingo said.

South Africa’s bowlers also earned their coach’s approval.

“The bowling disciplines were outstanding. The wicket did help, but our control was good,” he said. “It always helps to have a guy who can strike up front like Kagiso Rabada [who took 3/25 and was the series’ leading bowler in terms of wicket-taking‚ average and economy rate].”

Between them Rabada‚ Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius have played only 57 ODIs and are‚ collectively‚ just 69 years old – reasons for Domingo to be cheerful about the potential of the seam attack.

“It’s ‘KG’s’ first tour of New Zealand – he’s 21. Andile had his 21st birthday two days ago and Dwaine’s only played a handful of ODIs,” Domingo said.

“There’s still a lot of room for improvement and a lot of development that needs to take place with some of those young bowlers.

“They’re going to be challenged and tested under tougher conditions. But we’re happy with the way they dealt with the pressure.”

Imran Tahir also had a solid series‚ claiming only six wickets but lending South Africa stability when they needed it most.

Which left just one department to discuss.

“We found ourselves at 120/4 and 140/5 too many times‚” Domingo said. “It’s something we’re not happy with‚ but maybe these wickets help bowlers more than our one-day wickets at home.

“As a coach, you’re always looking for the perfect game and we haven’t played [it] on this tour.”

Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill scored the only centuries of the series‚ although South Africans scored eight half-centuries – twice as many as the Kiwis.

That was enough to give the visitors’ batsmen the edge in a series in which both teams’ bowlers seemed on top more than usual.

South Africa’s six-wicket win was achieved with 17.4 overs to spare to seal their sixth victory in the eight ODI series they have played since the 2015 World Cup.

The match was all but decided when South Africa dismissed New Zealand for 149 in 41.1 overs.

“We put a lot of pressure on New Zealand and got wickets at the right time. We were on the money for the duration of our fielding session‚” AB de Villiers said.

“It was a tricky total to chase but Faf [du Plessis‚ who scored 51 not out] and David [Miller‚ who made an unbeaten 45 and shared a stand of 62 with Du Plessis] made it quite easy at the end.”

De Villiers was also particularly satisfied with his bowlers‚ who have dismissed their opponents nine times in their last 15 ODIs.

South Africa will back Rabada to play a prominent role in their Champions Trophy campaign in England in June‚ which will follow the test series against the Kiwis – starting in Dunedin on Wednesday – and three ODIs against England.

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