Do the Proteas have the age-old yips?

2013-12-01 14:00

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The Proteas reverted to being a bat-first-and-win team? Khanyiso Tshwaku thinks so, based on recent evidence.

Defending totals, irrespective of surface, is far easier than having to make up ground, unless you’re India.

While other teams tremble at the thought of reeling in totals, India seem to thrive on the pressure of the chase.

It helps when a talent like Virat Kohli has 11 of his 17?ODI centuries coming in chases.

India has not lost any of those chases in which he got past the 100-run barrier.

The Proteas, in the clashes against Pakistan from March until yesterday’s third ODI at SuperSport Park, showed an age-old weakness that has flared up again: the inability to chase down 200-plus totals.

The last time the Proteas successfully chased down a total was on March 24, when captain AB de Villiers successfully spearheaded a tough overhaul of 205 on a spiteful Willowmoore Park track in Benoni.

On Wednesday, the Proteas suffered their fourth ODI home series defeat in four years, but the last two against Pakistan and New Zealand have been centred on an inability to close out games.

It is a throwback to the early post-isolation days, where losing the toss and fielding first put the Proteas behind the eight ball.

Between 1991 and 1995, the Proteas were only successful thrice in chasing down 200-plus totals – against India twice and once against Pakistan.

It was only after the 1995/96 Cricket World Cup where the late Bob Woolmer started to address the trend.

During Wednesday’s game, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers put the Proteas in an excellent position to win the game but a muddled approach to a reachable target stifled them.

While the team seems to have gifted players who pile on the runs when given first knock, they cannot deal with the pressure-cooker of the chase.

It is a far cry from March 2012, when South Africa whitewashed New Zealand away from home with all games involving 200-plus chases.

It is not a coincidence that De Villiers’ unbeaten 106 record in the six-wicket win in Wellington was South Africa’s last century in a chase.

The Proteas have shown the ability to chase down games, such as the three-wicket win against India at Nagpur in the 2011 World Cup.

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