SA’s hopes lie in early wickets

Tabraiz Shamsi during the Proteas practice session
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Phehlukwayo spells out team strategy ahead of titanic battle on St George’s Park pitch

Early Indian wickets will be key for South Africa as they attempt to stay alive in the series when the fifth One Day International is contested at St George’s Park today.

While the Proteas have been able to keep Rohit Sharma quiet at the top of the innings with only 40 runs in the four matches so far, they have not had much success in working Shikhar Dhawan and captain Virat Kohli out.

The Indian duo have been superb throughout the series, Kohli being particularly dominant in scoring 393 runs at average of 196.50 an innings.

South Africa have had their chances against him, but so far the Indian skipper has proved the difference between the sides and his wicket will be highly sought after.

South Africa allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo, 21, said the team has a strategy laid out to effect early dismissals in an attempt to have a go at the Indian middle order, which has yet to fire, albeit with limited opportunities.

“Obviously, they have been batting really well. It will be really nice for us to expose their middle order [early on].

“At the same time, we don’t really want to look too far ahead,” Phehlukwayo said yesterday.

The strapping left-hander was one of the South African heroes at the Wanderers on Saturday as the Proteas kept their hopes of squaring the series alive with a fivewicket victory in a rain-shortened affair.

He clubbed 23 off only five balls as the home team cruised in with 15 balls to spare.

A promotion up the order thrust him into the limelight and he responded brutally and effectively. “The game plan changed. “It was a left-hander for left-hander thing, so when David Miller got out, I had to go in and keep the combination going.

“I was told to look to be positive, watch the ball and execute my game plans that I have,” he said.

Until the fourth ODI, the South Africans had struggled to come to terms with the Indian wrist-spinners, but an aggressive approach in Johannesburg saw them claim a rare victory over Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

The Proteas will be after more of the same at St George’s Park.

“It was a game plan we had in our changeroom to be really positive and look to score against them,” Phehlukwayo said.

“Here in PE it is obviously home conditions.

“We know the conditions very well and we train specifically for them. The guys know their individual game plans.

“We know we have to be really positive.”

The seamer said the mood in the camp had lifted considerably and 3-1 down they were determined to take the series to last match in Centurion with a win today.

“I think the team has been really positive. We have obviously been training really hard.

“We have good momentum now from this last game.

“We didn’t think we were too far away from a victory.

“We have been very specific about our training and the team environment is really good.

“The setup is really positive. We have a good fighting spirit and a good culture.

“It’s never down and out. We are always looking to fight back.”

Phehlukwayo said the return of AB de Villiers had had a positive effect on the squad and even though he only scored 26, his mere presence had lifted them.

“The vibe that he brings to the team and the leadership he brings is fantastic.

“He teaches us about batting and his contribution he brings is always good.”

Team selection will also be crucial for South Africa and it would not surprise if leg-spinner Imran Tahir is brought back into the starting lineup for a surface that is likely to offer some assistance.

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