McKenzie: Proteas must fall back on blueprint

Neil McKenzie (Gallo Images)
Neil McKenzie (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The Proteas must fall back on the blueprint that has brought them success over the last 18 months when they take on India in their final ICC Champions Trophy Group B match at The Oval on Sunday.

The match is an outright quarter-final, with the winner earning a place in the semi-finals next week. 

The Proteas’ consistency over the last season has been underpinned by big hundreds from the top six, and bar Hashim Amla’s effort in the opening match against Sri Lanka, the line-up has yet to fire as a unit.

Proteas batting coach, Neil McKenzie, says it will be important to focus on executing the basics well, a simple strategy that has reaped rewards in the past.   

"The message hasn’t changed, you don’t become an average side with one performance," he said at the squad’s training at Lord’s on Friday.

"If you look at how we have played over the last 18 months; we have the number one ranked players for a reason.

"As management and all the players, we fancy our chances in any competition. Whether it comes off or not, it’s about bringing out your game plan and blueprint on the day.

"We are looking forward to a great contest. I think if we follow our blueprint and do the basics well we will hopefully come out on top. India are a class side, they have great players in their squad, so it will be a good clash. The confidence is still high with AB (de Villiers) and the boys."

McKenzie added that the performance against Pakistan was not what they had come to expect from their top order. 

"There were a few soft dismissals upfront," he said.

"We pride ourselves on our top six getting hundreds. You don’t normally see Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla getting out in that manner.

"They are world-class performers, they are allowed to make mistakes, but there was also terrific bowling. They put us under pressure, squeezed us with their spinners, and came back with the ball tailing and we didn’t have any answers for a spirited Pakistan outfit." 

Sri Lanka’s comfortable chase of 322 against India on Thursday suggests the match could produce another high-scoring clash, but McKenzie has stressed the need to adapt to what the conditions dictate, similar to Amla and Quinton de Kock’s approach in the opening match.   

"If you look at all the matches there it has been tough going for the openers," he said of The Oval conditions.

"The fluency isn’t there, both sides have serious players upfront that like to take to the opposition, that is what a quality player and a quality side does, they adapt to the conditions.

"The conditions have suggested that you need to be a little bit more cautious upfront, save wickets for the middle and the backend, and to set up a platform." 

AB de Villiers sustained a tight right hamstring during the match against Pakistan and will undergo a fitness test on Saturday to determine his availability for the match.
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England 159/5 (52 ov)
Pakistan 326
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England 159/5 (52 ov)
Pakistan 326
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