Proteas bowlers shy in wickets column

Dane Paterson (Gallo Images)
Dane Paterson (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The glory came only last season, but suddenly it seems so much longer ago than that.

Then, South Africa earned successive, stirring 5-0 clean sweeps over Australia and Sri Lanka in home one-day international series.

The Aussies were bowled out on three occasions and the 'Lankans four, en route to those crushing series triumphs.

Fast forward to the present, and just one signal of how mysteriously inept the Proteas' white-ball cricket has become during ongoing hostilities with India is that the tourists haven't yet come close to being bowled out even once in seven encounters (six ODI, one Twenty20).

Little wonder that they romped to a 5-1 ODI series triumph and already lead the three-match T20 portion of the tour 1-0 with two to play, the second clash at SuperSport Park on Wednesday (18:00 start).

They always say in limited-overs cricket that wickets in hand is a great way of ensuring consistent momentum, and also a suitably rousing conclusion to innings - India have enjoyed that luxury a lot over the last two or three weeks.

The closest South Africa have come to bagging all 10 wickets in the Indian knock was in the fourth ODI at the Wanderers (also their lone, slightly fortuitous win by Duckworth/Lewis reduced method) and fifth at St George's Park, where the visitors batted first each time and lost seven wickets on each occasion.

India's tail-end batting barely being tested - or not at all - extended into the first T20 in Johannesburg on Sunday, where they posted a formidable 203 for five, and the Proteas then seldom looked like getting genuinely close (ending on 175/9).

Hardly helped by their batting being so ropey as well, the home nation only grabbed 27 Indian wickets in total during the ODI series, compared to the 53 - almost exactly double - snared by India.

Conspicuously absent for the most part in the seven white-ball meetings thus far have been stellar individual hauls by South African bowlers, even if some have exercised a modicum of acceptable control and boasted lowish run-concession rates.

Instead a hunger to get busy in the wickets column has been almost entirely the preserve of Indian bowlers: think Kuldeep Yadav's 3/34 in the first ODI at Kingsmead, Yuzvendra Chahal's 5/22 in the second at SuperSport Park, Kuldeep and Chahal each getting "four-fors" at Newlands, Kuldeep another 4/57 in Port Elizabeth, Shardul Thakur 4/52 in the closing ODI back at Centurion, and then Bhuvneshwar Kumar earning a career-best 5/24 in Sunday's first T20 fixture.

In all that time, South Africa have earned a solitary four-wicket haul, emerging young speedster Lungi Ngidi sporting 4/51 at St George's Park, albeit in another losing cause.

So desperate have things become, as the Proteas experiment with something of a reserve/up-and-coming bowling arsenal, that there was some trumpeting by SuperSport's South African-based TV commentators of debutant Junior Dala's two wickets in Sunday's T20.

That said, the Titans seamer still leaked 47 runs from his four overs (an expensive economy rate of nearly 12) although he certainly warrants a further opportunity to bring that particular statistic down a bit.

Left-arm chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi did trouble more than a couple of Indian batsmen and was unlucky to only grab one wicket, including being a victim of irksome catching lapses by colleagues.

He is the type of customer capable of striking a few times in succession and, playing on his home ground on Wednesday, seems an unlikely omission ... even if the more orthodox left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso is the only bowling member of the squad not to have had a gallop in the series yet.

Also not yet blooded is the newcomer from the Warriors, batsman Christiaan Jonker.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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