Proteas can’t be wimps on tour

2013-08-04 14:00

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South Africa may have won their third T20 international in Sri Lanka, this time against the hosts, but that does not mask their deficiencies against spin.

They better learn how to deal with it fast because come the next T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, there will be plenty more of it. The pitches in the low-lying Asian country are lower and slower than on the island.

The two sides will clash today in the second T20 international of the series, which will be played in the isolated Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota.

It’s a match in which the Proteas’ rather brittle top order needs to get to grips with spin.

Previous South African teams had to tour Sri Lanka with the very lethal threat of Muttiah Muralitharan; and now, in Sachithra Senanayake and Ajantha Mendis, Sri Lanka have found spinners who can tie up batsmen in mental knots.

What is a bit odd is that South African batsmen handled both spinners with aplomb when Sri Lanka last toured South Africa, but a change of scenery can make or break a team.

And as we all know, pitches can’t be wrapped up, placed in suitcases and taken along on tours.

International cricket is about adaptability and that’s something the Proteas will have to work on at the end of the series.

They cannot be seen as home bullies who become wimps when removed from their back yard.

One comfort is the form and reliability of JP Duminy, who became South Africa’s highest T20 run scorer.

While he has been prone to playing across the line, making him an LBW candidate, he managed to manoeuvre Sri Lanka’s spinners while the rest of the batsmen fumbled.

The bowling, including that of his own team, backed him up well, but South Africa’s inexperienced but powerful batting line-up is very capable of making more than the feeble 115 they put up in Colombo on Friday.

It’s not every day that your bowling attack can defend a paltry total against the number one ranked T20 side in the world.

The Henry Davids/Quinton de Kock combination at the top of the order should be given a chance to blossom but as much as Faf du Plessis showed tactical nous, his primary batting strength seems to have deserted him.

It is a bad indictment of his T20 abilities, considering that he opens the batting in the Indian Premier League, where he is sure to be exposed to spin.

As he did when he took over the captaincy, he needs to step up and show his batting prowess too.

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